Inner Loud


“Wow, you’re really silent.”

“Who me?”

It took me a minute to realize that the new temp had been talking to me. The Powers-That-Be had decreed that we would now share an office with one another, and mostly I didn’t mind her: she didn’t smack her lips or talk on the phone, but she did have a habit of talking to herself in the kind of full volume declarative statements that halfway sounded like she was taking to me. I’d looked up from my work more than once only to realize that she was thinking out loud and that my input was not necessary.

“I live alone.” She went on to explain. “So I think out loud- talk to myself, sing…”

“Ahh.”

I appreciated the explanation, but I didn’t really need it: the office was full of out-loud thinkers who carried on a kind of one sided conversation with themselves to stay focused and to solve problems. Occasionally I would share the office with the little Russian lady from accounts who spoke a nearly continuous string of sibliant whispers as if she were slowly losing air pressure as she worked.

I, however, was not an out-loud thinker. I was an in-loud thinker. And evidently the new temp had noticed.

“Not you, though.” She said. “You are silent. You don’t let anything out.”

I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to say to this, so I didn’t say anything. I got the feeling that my apparent lack of gregariousness bothered her, but I was there to work, not to be a sounding board, I didn’t feel compelled to change. Silence didn’t bother me, and since much of my inner narrative is riddled with curses, I don’t think she would find me to be any better company for sharing my thoughts more freely.

It did make me realize how loud my inner space is, though. I’d never really stopped to think about it before. Silence doesn’t bother me because I’m not usually listening to it- I usually have my ear turned inward on whatever mental conversation that I’m having with myself, or on the simulated dialogue of encounters past and future, real and imagined, as I work through all the contingencies.

I can think or I can speak. I have trouble doing both at the same time. Or rather, I have trouble making small talk because it takes away precious concentration from the thoughts I’d rather be thinking. Especially when I’m also trying to focus on cutting payroll at the same time.

So I expect that my new office mate finds me to be rather poor company, but that’s alright: she’s very sweet as everybody else likes her so she doesn’t lack for new friends to talk to who will make better conversation that me anyway.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 17, 2019.

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