"Chocolate is not junk food. It is emotional health food." - Dragon Lady
Question #41554 posted on 12/17/2007 3:01 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I had a really strange encounter with a guy at work today. I've never seen him before (I'm new), and the first time I really laid eyes on him, he said something like, "and SHE hasn't even introduced herself to me yet!"

I wasn't sure if I was supposed to know him already, or what the deal was...I later found out that we only overlap one shift, and he may not have even been there last time. So this is probably our first meeting.

Maybe an hour passes, and he comes over and asks me to tell him something about myself. Not knowing quite what to say, I told him where I'm from and then asked, "so what's your story?" He said that he had no story and quickly left the room.

Later on, he comes in and sits down next to me and asks about every detail of my life--everything from what I like to do to high school ambitions to dating life to why I don't invite people to come over to my house more often since I live in such a spacious place. Which is...fine I guess? I kept trying to interject questions for him here and there, but they always came right back to me. So after an extensive discussion of my dating life and why I'm not married yet (I'm 20, for heavens sake), I asked him if he had any diagnosis for why I was not married. A death trap? Maybe. I just wanted to know what sort of weird impression he was getting of me. He said he had some guesses, but that he didn't ever share those. Then he said goodbye and walked away.

I have no idea what to make of this kid. Absolutely none, whatsoever. And for some reason, even though I was just trying to be friendly, I feel like I came off as cocky and pessimistic. But I don't really think of myself as cocky or pessimistic...so my questions are these:

What's the deal with this guy?
How do I know if I'm cocky and pessimistic?

Part of what bothers me is that there are things I didn't tell him...for example, maybe the reason I don't have people over very often is because nobody comes when I invite them. I invited at least 30 people to my last party, and how many showed? Three. It's not that I live in some great and spacious building, hoarding the whole place to myself...I try really hard to get out and have a social life. Really hard. And I'm not an outgoing person, so it's not exactly easy for me.

Anyway, sorry for that little tangent. I don't know...I guess I'm just frustrated with the whole first impression deal. He doesn't even know me at all, but some of his more pointed questions made it feel like an interrogation.

-Cops and robbers is no fun in real life

A: Dear,

Yes, that sounds a little odd. And it makes me wonder if I've met the guy you work with.

Anyway, this is what I suggest. Next time he starts quizzing you, laugh, and say you refuse to tell him anything more about you until you hear more about him. Be friendly, but firm. Remember that he has no right the the information he's asking for, and he's being nosy and rude, if you're not comfortable. Another good thing to say (still smiling, and laughing, so you don't come off as mean, but firmly, and possibly repeatedly) would be "Oh, come on, that's none of your business. Let's lay off of my personal life."

The deal with this guy is that he's socially awkward. He's taken the "be interested in other people and don't talk about yourself too much" to extremes, and he's not observing the niceties of increased privileges of friendship with time and trust. He's jumping in with both feet, and acting like you have a connection that's not there.

You may or may not be cocky and pessimistic, but it hardly matters here. You can find out by asking trusted and honest friends, and by doing a lot of soul-searching.

I think you were absolutely right not to share your activity-planning woes. It's an unfortunate situation, but telling him won't help anything, and it would make you sound desperate and friendless, when I doubt you really are.

(If you want to get more people to your parties, by the way, sometimes a bunch of invites aren't enough. Try involving more people in the planning, sending out real paper-and-ink invitations, having some kind of food, and a purpose to the party-whether it's a movie or games or to dress up or whatever. Let people know 2-4 weeks ahead of time, and don't say things like "let's get a lot of people here, this time," say "this party is going to be so cool, you'll kick yourself if you miss it." Remind people when you see them, but don't bring it up so frequently that they think you're worried you won't get many people. No one wants to come to a party where there's no one else, and nothing to do but stare at each other. If you're confident in your planning and advertising, they'll be more likely to assume that you've set up something so cool you don't really have to worry about numbers or things to do. A lot is in how you market it.)

No worries with this kid. He's the one who should be feeling like he made an awkward impression, not you. For you, remember that you don't have to answer his questions, and that if you point out what he's doing to him, he might realize and back off, a little. There will be other impressions other than the first to hit things off better. And if you never do, remember that not everyone will always like you, and that's all right. Be polite, but don't feel bad because some guy at work is a little odd. The world will still turn, and you will still have rockin' parties.

-Uffish Thought