They’re not coming, they’re here. I’m not talking about small green men, or spindly gray shimmering masses with above average intelligence. I’m talking Space Invaders…The guy at work whose known as the human backpack, because when you turn around you bump into him. There’s the creepy older guy who asks your sign, and then explains how your connected through the stars and a few other things too, but you just can’t hear him because your too busy inching away from him . The old lady down the street who touches you constantly and calls you Susan, even though you don’t know her and your name is Barbara. Your little brother, finger centimeters from your arm screaming, “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you”. They’re the people in our lives who do not understand personal space or boundaries. The folks who perhaps ate paint chips as children, or have hearing aids which require uncomfortable closeness rather than volume adjustment. I’m sure it says so right on the package…”No volume adjustment, move closer to victim..” But unfortunately they lost their glasses when they hid them in that secret place they would never forget, so therefore have no proof.
We all have space invaders in our lives, hell, the lucky ones even have a few… And of course you could be a space invader yourself, but I doubt you realize it, or you would cease at once because it’s incredibly aggravating to those around you! Two close relatives of the Space invader are the Lurker, and the monologist. I’ll give you my definitions so you can understand their differences.
Space invader: Someone who stands too close, talks to intimately, touches too often, or makes you genuinely feel like you can’t breathe because they are stealing all of your air. They have never heard of the “bubble”, even though I am convinced it was invented to prevent such behavior, and if you explain to them the concept, they will not get it. Don’t try.
The Lurker: Someone who does not often actively engage in a situation, yet never seems to leave to attend other matters of life. They stick to the shadows, slinking from one to the next, all the while eaves dropping on your innermost thoughts and personal conversations. They have little to add if anything, and are quite good at creating a tense uncomfortable atmosphere. When they do talk it is awkward, stilted and unnecessary. They are often seen in areas where this is no use for them, and they are nothing more than an inconvenience and/or a tripping hazard… A slight variation of the lurker is the man or woman who doesn’t comprehend social cues during polite conversation, so therefor misses the fact that the conversation is over, or has never been. They often will drag a story out beyond interesting, or attempt to engage you in conversation when it is obvious to everyone around that you are not interested. Please note: You are not often needed in this conversation, they are capable of carrying both sides of the dialogue, so sit back, relax if your able and think of an exit strategy.
The Monologist: These people are genuinely interesting..Or at least that is what they think. Monologist can be very sneaky, because they look like anyone, and when in conversations with more than one person can seem pleasant, even intriguing. This is their trap. They pull you in bit by bit until you are interested in conversing with them, but when you proceed, expecting to engage in a two person dialogue you come to the realization that you have been standing there for 5 minutes or more and have yet to get a single word out. They are spewing forth the hot garbage of their lives unto you as if it were twines of delicate silk trickling from their lips. How lucky you are to hear them.. How gifted you must feel, to be given the privilege of their never-ending voice. They monologue continuously, rarely stopping to take a breath let alone allow you to respond, and although at first what they speak of seems deep and emotional, you realize very quickly it has no end.
So what are we to do when confronted with these situations? Here is a short list of ideas that I have compiled to assist you in your time of crisis.
- Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact. They might steal your soul..for everyone knows that the eyes are the window…
- If you are able…Put objects between you and the offender… Anything will do. Books, boxes, furniture, your fat dog who snorts when you shove her at your nemesis. Don’t worry, if she were awake, she’d understand.
- The old nod and smile. Works every time.. As long as you never see them again. If you know you will be encountering this same SI again, DO NOT USE THIS TECHNIQUE.. It will backfire..it only works to placate them until you can make your get away.
- Distract them, either by changing the subject frantically over and over and over again until you fall upon one that grabs their attention, or by giving up a close friend as bait..The promise of a tasty new obsession is rarely turned down. Unless of course you have made eye contact with them, or done the nod and smile….
- Ask them to fetch something for you. Not only does this give you some breathing room, it can also come in handy when you are feeling lazy.
- Tell them how much you dislike their company. Don’t be soft. They will overlook soft. If you are cruel and blunt, it will give you a day, maybe more, of free time before they come back to haunt the edges of your life.
- Grin and bear it. This isn’t the most pleasant of options, but if, like me, you detest confrontation and your too nice to hurt feelings…you can always just allow them to lurk. Warning: You will need plenty of pain killers…This option often comes with headaches.
- When in a group setting: Walk out of the room. Do not interrupt, do not look around. Quietly remove your self from the situation. Note: this will only work if you are in a group, and the first person to think of it. Be quick!
- Politely try to interrupt with an opinion or observation. This does not always work..Once a monologist has begun their assault it is often endless, unedited, repetitive, and without perception to the nature of your attentiveness.
- Get creative. Often the only way to avoid the endless tirade of inner thoughts is to take refuge in your own imagination. Plan your meals for the next few days, weeks or months. Analyze the highlights of the last book you read, or sing yourself a song. You are the master inside your own unreality. Embrace it!
These are merely a few ideas on how to avoid, confront and/or deal with these everyday annoyances. Remember..It could be you.