In those situations where I don’t have an appropriate response, my mouth takes control of my brain. Take, for example, the time my boss told me that her much loved, prized cat had died. My boss doted on that cat. She adored that cat. The furry feline was her family, her child, her company when she got home at night and the reason she got up in the morning. She kept that proud pussy in the house all the time, never opening the door in case it encountered the dangers or riffraff of life outside.
Then one day the cat died. Distraught, she told me that she taken her treasured moggy out to the garden where she had, with due care and ceremony, buried her and planted a beautiful miniature rose bush over her grave.
My boss was grieving. She was distressed and mourning and sought the understanding and sympathy of a fellow cat lover. She needed support, and a touch of tenderness. She told me, in front of the whole open plan office, in front of her peers – the full management team. She opened up. And I said,
“Well, at least she finally got outside.”
Even as the words left my mouth, even as silence descended around me and jaws dropped open, even as the nearest manager retreated, shaking with withheld sobs of laughter, under his desk, I went cold with the knowledge that once again I had managed to find the single most inappropriate response I could have.
So, I am extremely thankful for the fact the world is too busy to talk these days. Bear with me – I know that was a jump, but there is a link.
We bemoan the deterioration in communication amongst teens these days. We deplore the lost art of conversation and we are lament over the lack of dialogue over the dining table.
But I say no! I am thankful for email. Thank you for a form of communicating that is faster than snail mail, but still means I can write down what I need to say, rather than trying to communicate verbally, particularly in situations where I just know my mouth is going to move faster than my brain.
I am also notorious for my impatience. When I am on the cusp of an idea or absorbed in a flow of thought and need a single detail, I have been known to call a person, ask the relevant question and hang up – forgetting the need for polite chit chat and niceties. So I am thankful for text, which allows brevity and directness.
I am thankful for Skype, Instant Messanger and Facebook chat. I use every one of these each day to chat, comment and sent inappropriate humorous links to my friends and fellow freelancers – giving us a communal office experience despite being separated by miles and oceans.
(Although, after accidentally rattling off an incoherent rant about the vagaries of certain clients, intended for my GMB and instead sent to a vaguely known parent of my child’s friend, I have learnt to slow down and check which of those programs I am using before pressing send!)
I am thankful for blogs, through which I found all of you. And I am thankful for forums and groups which allow us to share ideas and hugs and generally make you all part of my daily routine.
That’s not to say I am totally opposed to the spoken word. I am surgically attached to my mobile phone, which accompanies me to the bath, the toilet, on the school run and, recently, up a mountain despite it having no signal and becoming nothing more than an expensive camera.
While Sackgirl and Botboy flounder up and down the swimming pool, I am able to perch in my car making last minute calls to clients (which is why I also love my laptop and iPad – mobility at it’s best) or organising electricians and carpet fitters to visit our next project. I am, generally, better able to control my mouth-brain interface over the phone, as I can prepare thoughts in advance, make notes on key phrases to interject at relevant moments and pull faces at myself in the mirror to express what I really think.
(Next time you are walking through a car park and you see a woman staring into her reversing mirror, scrunching up her nose and grimacing, or flashing her teeth in a monster grin and rolling her eyes, that’s me, and I’ve just heard the most ridiculous comment or request ever spoken over my mobile phone. Self-expression is a marvellous thing.)
Despite all of this, sometimes it’s necessary for me to meet with clients face to face. In those moment my brain shuts down, my internal dictionary fails and my vocabulary automatically reduces to that of a 5 year old.
I am thankful for all of you, and them, who see past that to the desperately waving writer inside!