Monday, 25 June 2012

Ramblings: Rules of Engagement


I’ve had an absolutely lovely weekend. Paul and I spent the weekend in Nottingham and it was almost perfect. We ate out, perused exhibitions, watched a film and had a few relaxing walks. I say almost perfect because nothing is ever perfect when you’re a perfectionist like me so almost is actually good enough. Is that a paradox?

I was thinking yesterday about one of my favourite mottos: Do Not Engage.

Paul and I contrast in our behaviour on this one. If I see my neighbours in the garden I’ll duck behind the fence and crawl back into the house on my belly. I get splinters but it’s worth it. It’s not that I dislike them (although those Russians do bang about a lot). I actually quite like the gay couple who live on the other side. They’re very interesting women. I just can’t be bothered to make tedious small talk. If Paul sees his neighbours he’s happy to stand and chat and would gladly invite them in.

I avoid people’s eye in the street. I scuttle into doorways to hide from people. I hate that thing where you’re the only person in the shop and feel the impending doom of being trapped by a shopkeeper. It can be ghastly. I loathe having to interact with the chatty person who sits opposite you on the train and keeps you from dipping into the corking novel you’re enjoying.

I sometimes wonder if my job makes me a bit like this. My work involves a lot of talking. Talking and listening, trying to assess what is going on with the patients’ physical and psychological health. It can be intense too. The noise of a hospital can be overwhelming and almost an assault. I like to retreat afterwards and have peace.

Paul broke the rules and engaged with people yesterday. I don’t mind at all. I can always slip outside or carry on if it gets too terrible. He ended up chatting with gallery attendants, artists and an unusually boorish shopkeeper. I really didn’t mind at all, although I wouldn’t have done it.

Walking back afterwards, Paul fed back a few snippets of the information he’d learned. It was actually very interesting and useful and possibly made the tedium of the rest of their droning worthwhile. I sometimes wonder if it’s time I broke all my rules. Maybe I need new ones.

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