You know how it works.

You’re in the auto repair shop waiting room while your car is getting a tune up and an oil change.  It won’t take long … about an hour and a half. Perfect.  That’ll give you time to return some email and re-read that report that’s due in a couple of days.  A woman who came in to get a flat tire repaired has just been told that her car is ready so you’re next up.


You’re just thrilled to have the luxury of some time alone and uninterrupted to catch up on some personal business.  How did you ever get things done without your iPad?

And then, you make the fatal mistake of looking up and making eye contact as he heads toward you.  You didn’t mean for it to happen.  It just happened.  Here he comes …


Needless to say, he sits down right next to you.  Never mind the fact that right over there are at least a half dozen, empty seats right in front of the television which is blasting a clip from the Today Show in which Charlie Sheen is telling Matt Lauer that he informed all of his former sex partners that he was HIV+.

To make matters worse, Bob’s fat arms are spilling into your chair space, he doesn’t smell his best and he’s loudly eating potato chips and it’s nowhere near lunch time.  Really?  Awkward.

You could move, but of course, at this point, that would be flat out rude and you’d look like the bad guy.  So, you sit there and pour your determined, yet irritated attention into your iPad. 

iPads work beautifully as distraction and camouflage devices.  All you have to do is turn it on and suddenly seem busy.  There’s nothing like them to help you avoid all human contact.

What?  You already knew that?  Sorry.

Anyway, at this point, you know what’s going to happen next , but you hope for the best.  To decrease the odds, you turn slightly and cross your legs in the other direction desperately hoping your body language will be seen as a gentle yet effective cold shoulder.

But of course not … it actually happens …

“Is that an iPad?” asks CHATTY BOB.  “Damn it!” you think to yourself. 

“Yes, it is,” you respond.  “I’ve got SO MUCH on here to keep me busy!” you add, hoping like hell this guy takes your second subtle hint.

Needless to say, he does not.

“You know, I’ve been thinking about getting one, but I’m still waiting for the price to go down,” CHATTY BOB says while chomping down on his chips.  Oh, did I mention that his chips are sour cream and onion?

“Hey, how much did you pay for yours?” he asks.

“Oh my God,” you think to yourself.  This is NOT happening.  Seriously?

Isn’t this why we try to avoid human contact at least half of the time?  You want to be cordial to everyone you meet, but it’s just so hard.  Here you are with a couple of spare moments to kill two birds with one stone and some pain in the ass dude rolls up and throws a wrench in your plans.

Let’s just call this what it is.  It’s “The Inconvenience of Human Relations.”  It can be so upsetting at times, can’t it?  People like CHATTY BOB never come around when you’re actually lonely and could use some help.  Not that you’d necessarily chat with him anyway.  You know what I mean.

But what IS it with that?  Why does it often seem like the people with whom we have the least in common are always the most intrusive? 

Hell, if I know.  I guess it’s the price we pay for being human and living on the planet in the 21st Century.  The population is like seven billion you know.  It’s inevitable.

I don’t know about you, but I’m slowly learning to make my plans, but go with the flow, as they say.  It makes no sense to stress yourself out over those little inconveniences in the form of strangers who pass in and out of your day.  It’s all part of the flow, isn’t it?

Just yesterday, I was waiting in line at a convenience store where a woman ahead of me was up at the counter, but forgot to get a couple of things.  I kid you not, this woman says to the check out lady …

“Hold on, I’ll be right back!” 

Then she runs to the back of the store, gets what she forgot – toilet paper – and returns to the counter where the check out lady completes the order.

The guy in front of me on line and I had a field day with that.  It’s something we both discussed that we hate … people who shop WHILE they’re up at the pay counter.

“Guys please!” said the check out lady.  “You only see that every once in awhile, but I have to deal with it EVERYDAY!” she said.

“I also think some people come in here not to really buy things, but JUST to have me scan them!” she added.  With that, we all laughed.

It’s just part of the human condition, isn’t it? We simply cannot escape those little irritations that we often allow to balloon into full blown infuriation.  It simply comes with the gig of being human.

The ONLY way to avoid the inconvenience of human relations is to live on a deserted island … especially during holiday time.  Hmm.

Another thing that gets me is when people call and I answer the phone…

“Hello, this is Michael,” I say.

“Hi Michael, this is Jake (for example).” 

“Hi Jake,” I reply.

At this point, there’s dead silence … I’m not saying anything because I’m waiting for Jake to continue.  After all, HE called ME which leads me to assume that he needs something or wants to chat, so the ball is in his court.  For the first part of the call … he’s the inquirer and I’m the listener. Isn’t THAT how phone calls work?

But in those few awkward seconds, Jake isn’t talking.  Awkward.  Has he forgotten why he has called?  Am I supposed to automatically KNOW why he has called and begin talking as if I have answers to all of his concerns?

Needless to say, this morphs into a Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm moment and because we’re both talking on cellphones which still have a tendency to drop in and out, we both start talking over one another following that awkward silence and the phone conversation becomes …

“Sorry, go ahead!”  “No, YOU go ahead!”  “Sorry!”  “What did you say?” 

PAIN IN THE ASS.  The inconvenience of human relations … or lack thereof. 

One more quick story.  Not too long ago, I purposely got up early one morning because I wanted to spend some quiet meditation time out on my back patio.  It was my day off and the weather forecast indicated that it was going to be a great day.

So, I got up, made my coffee, grabbed my iPad and went out back.  The sun was emerging, the birds were chirping and the morning fog had given way to my total sense of calm. 

I sat down with my coffee, turned on my iPad and suddenly out of nowhere comes … 


It was my next door neighbor with the lawn mower.  I looked up and over in his direction and what did I see … the guy was waving at me with a “Good Morning Neighbor!” smile on his face.

Needless to say, my morning plans got shot to crap.  People totally wear me out. 

That deserted island is looking better and better.  The only problem is there would be no Starbucks.



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