Today I went to great lengths to express myself clearly in several interactions — with a server in a restaurant, a hotel clerk, etc — and was met in each case by a sort of cheerful, glazed, and rather stubborn incomprehension. Frustrating. Strange. Felt almost astrological.
Commenters cite iPhone distraction, which is undoubtedly part of it.
Most of it is the work conditions for frontline clerk types. They’ve been BASHED AND SMASHED in the last three years by demonic mandates they didn’t understand. They’ve been required to punish customers for non-strangling and non-distancing, and they’ve been strangled all day. Now they’re facing extreme economic pressures.
“Great lengths to express myself” sounds like Kirn was trying to accomplish something outside the usual routine, which is just an added burden for the entirely overloaded and underrewarded clerks.
One commenter hits a big permanent difference:
Wondering where this happened? We talk to each other here in southern Appalachia, especially at the Dollar General and the Dollar Tree.
Yankees are always glazed and impersonal. I noticed this when I moved to Spokane in 1990. I had lived in Oklahoma through the ’70s and continued to carry the Okie way of doing things. As an introvert, I was accustomed to being the least friendly side of interactions in Oklahoma. Suddenly I was the MOST friendly side in Washington. My Okie-style Howdies and handshakes were met by walls and fences.
This little infomercial from Enid isn’t the best example, but it shows the difference. Curtis is featuring a special Xmas sale at Evans Drug, which has always been a sort of general store. Around 2:50 the doors open and people come “flooding in”. But they’re not flooding and they’re not walled off. Each customer comes in and talks for a minute with the clerk at the door, and then you can see groups of customers talking with each other. Everyone is face-to-face, no lookaways or iPhones or blank stares.
The sane states in the “virus” lunacy are the churchiest states and they’re also the face-to-face states, where everyone takes TIME for natural socializing.