Here’s a fun fact about me. I talk about the weather a lot. Yes, I do. Lately it has come to my attention that I actually notice, consider and discuss the weather an excessive amount of time. I check the forecast daily and throughout the day (as if the actual conditions I am standing in aren’t accurate enough), I look up the temperatures in other parts of the world, I even study the historical record to compare the current climate to dates in the past. As Vancouverites, we all seem to prattle on about the weather and I wonder sometimes if people in other places in the world discuss the vagaries of sunshine and showers like we do here. I guess it’s a pretty neutral subject of conversation. I mean you can’t really get offended or start a protest about meteorological phenomena. Although I suppose if provoked, someone out there would find a way. (Oh right, as a repercussion of global warming… bruh)
I guess in my business what was once an easy way to start a friendly discussion has slowly become the only safe topic in my arsenal of ice-breaking strategies. Seriously, I once actually created a list of chat ideas to use when meeting new clients or people (Realtors are big on ‘scripts’) and I realised that almost everything out there is a potential trigger for the right (wrong) person.
Have a family? Like to cook? What do you do for work? Where are you from? Over my career have all unwittingly resulted in that uncomfortable silence when some totally left-field answer leaves us both with strained smiles and a sudden keen interest in the tread wear patterns on our shoes. I mean, what the? It used to be simple to strike up a conversation about anything but now I have to play it safe and just stick to pros and cons of misty versus drizzly rain and maybe what they like to eat for lunch. Sure, not everyone has a bad experience to share for these seemingly benign ‘get to know you’ questions but you only need one awkward answer to have you second guessing that avenue of discourse forever more.
As a person who also suffers horribly from foot-in-mouth disease, I am hyper sensitive to the ever present faut pas fairy who lives on my shoulder and is just waiting to magic some mentally defective rubbish out of my gob to mortify me, my potential client and on too many occasions I want to admit, my friends and family.
So, I do not care how lame a debate about the size, temperature and/or quality of summer rain sounds, I will stick to the prudent bet and pray for some outside distraction to cut the gossip short in a more natural way. Then our exchange can naturally flow to the idiot who just cut me off in traffic who will, of course, turn out to be the life-partner of the person sitting next to me in the car.
See how easy it is for me to mess up…
Oh, did you hear, we’re in for some unseasonably hot weather next week.