Thursday, August 28, 2008

On antisocial behavior

From What I Do: More True Tales of Everyday Craziness by Jon Ronson.

I'm considering hiring a bookkeeper to help me manage my receipts. A bookkeeper called Eric comes over for a trial session. I leave him to it.
"Eric," I shout after a while. "I'm going out. Help yourself to coffee or whatever. OK, bye!"
I saunter down the stairs and practically gasp. Eric has got his coat on. He's walking towards the front door too. I realize to my horror that the two of us are equidistant to the door. And we are walking at an identical pace. If this continues unabated we'll be leaving the house at exactly the same time and will consequently be forced to walk along the road together.
Oh no! I think.
I look frantically around for something that might authentically slow me down. But there's nothing. I have my keys in my hand. My coat is zipped up. I'm clearly ready to leave. I catch Eric's eye and give him a pleading look to say, "One of us has to stop this madness before it spirals out of control and we end up walking down the road together with nothing to say to each other."
Think laterally, Jon, I think. I've got it!
"I'm just going to the toilet!" I say.
"Oh," says Eric. "I left something downstairs."
I hurry up to the toilet. Eric hurries down to the kitchen.
Inside the toilet I ponder Eric's demeanour as he said he'd forgotten something. It was obviously a ruse and he felt the same way I did about us leaving together, but why? I know what [my wife] Elaine would say. She'd say, "Eric just wanted to be your friend and you made him feel small, didn't you, with your antisocial behaviour. That's why he ran back downstairs. It's just like that time we had Bill round and you sat on the Internet all night. It was the rudest thing I've ever seen anyone do."
"I can't believe you're still going on about that Bill thing years after it happened," I'd reply, before adding, with a triumphant glint in my eye, "And the fact that you're always citing that single incident is proof that I'm only rarely antisocial."
Anyway, Eric's demeanour throughout the incident was equally awkward. He clearly didn't want to walk with me just as vehemently as I didn't want to walk with him.
His antisocial attitude makes him interesting, I think. I can relate to that. What an interestingly antisocial self-assured person.
Now all I need to do is wait here in the toilet until I hear him scamper away.
So I do.
I'm going to hire him! I think.


At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Theodora said...

Great work.


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