My Plan for This Week

[singlepic id=21 w=320 h=240 float=right]I’ve been feeling good about Sandwich Lady all day. So I’m going to try to compliment people again. I don’t anticipate these being long conversations. I need to say something nice and get out before they get suspicious and think I want something. A drive-by love-bomb, if you will. I’m shooting for ten compliments by week’s end.

The Talk to Strangers Project Begins…

What’s the opposite of a “people person”? A hermit? Misanthrope? Sociopath? I’m not a sociopath. I don’t torture cats or disfigure prostitutes. What I am is an average looking, 28-year-old guy, living in L.A., who just doesn’t like people.[singlepic id=3 w=320 h=240 float=right]

Face it. Most people are boring. The average person you meet has a boring job, a boring family, and a boring imagination. If you asked them what’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to them, you’d get a boring story about winning eight grand on a scratch-off lottery ticket or meeting Shaquille O’Neal in the airport one time.

And it’s not just boring people I don’t want to associate with. I also despise stupid people. Like my last girlfriend Amanda who believes that “everything happens for a reason.” And needy, low-self-esteem, TMI’ers who tell you in the first ten seconds of meeting about their ADD, sex addiction, and irritable bowel syndrome (these types are inextricably drawn to reality TV).

But the list doesn’t end there. I also hate: people with shifty eyes, people who Tweet, early adopters, people who refer to professional sports teams as “us” or “we,” people who drive Priuses, people who misuse the reflexive pronoun “myself,” sweaty people, people who talk about golf, reality stars, cat people, people who wear sports jerseys with athletes’ names on them, people who play Farmville, audiophiles, people who don’t signal, people who memorize baseball statistics, car guys, people who started playing poker recently, people who wait until the last minute to merge lanes, people whose mouths are open at rest, people who post links on my Facebook wall, frequent flyers, people who get really mad when their team loses, people who write novels or screenplays at Starbucks, and outdoorsmen.

By now you are thinking, This guy is a dick. What makes him so great to dump on practically every type of person in existence? Fuck him and his holier than thou attitude. To that point I can only respond by saying, “You’re right.” I’m not so special. I’m not better than all these people. Well, maybe I’m better than a lot of them, but I’m sure there are a lot of things about me that people hate, too.

After all, I always correct people’s grammar. I can’t help it. I could see why people might find that annoying. I especially hate when someone makes a grammatical error in the very process of trying to sound more grammatical, like when someone says, “Please return the questionnaire to either Jimmy or I.” That really bugs the shit out of me.

Look, there’s a lot of other things wrong with me which I’m sure I’ll get to in time. My point is, I’m no great prize either. That’s why lately I feel like things have been getting worse for me. People grow up assuming that life is just going to keep on getting better and better. More fun, more friends, more sex, more freedom. But since college, I have a lot fewer friends. I haven’t had a girlfriend in nine months. And my job… well, I’m an associate at an i-bank, and I can’t imagine that this is my career. I mean, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life? Look at spreadsheets all day?

But even more than that, for the first time in my life, I feel disconnected. Isolated. Alone.

I want more friends. I was pretty popular in high school. I’ve had hot girlfriends before. I’m capable of forming close relationships and my friends would probably describe me as not-at-all psychotic. So why can’t I meet new people? Different kinds of people. Expose myself to some new things I never even thought about before, like, I don’t know, bowling or something. I want to have hobbies. I used to like all different sorts of things but now I just watch TV every night or play PS3.

In high school, I used to be surrounded by people all the time. Every class was filled with a different cross section of my school. But now, I live in my little apartment by myself, go to work in my air-tight car, sit in my cubicle, and basically not interact with any human beings.

So I’m sitting here, home alone on a Friday night feeling sorry for myself, when it occurred to me. Maybe I don’t really hate people. Maybe I just need to get to know them better. When you’re five and you meet someone on the playground, you just say, “Hi, I’m so-and-so. You want to be my friend?” Why can’t it be that simple as adults?

The only problem is it’s pretty tough in L.A. to meet people. When you’re out of school, there’s no natural way to make those connections. And I’m certainly not the type who gets girls’ phone numbers in bars or walks into a cocktail party and  introduces myself to strangers.

But maybe I could be. Maybe I could be a people person if I tried. And maybe if I became a people person, things would change for me. Maybe things would get better. Maybe I wouldn’t be so bored. And negative. And lonely.

So I decided. I’m going to go on a journey of self-exploration. I’m going to talk to strangers. Maybe not everyone, but a lot of them. People I run into in my daily life. I’m not going on a road trip here. I’m just talking about meeting the dry cleaner guy so we know each others’ names. I’m going to write about it to chronicle my ups and downs. I’m going to keep it anonymous for now, because I don’t know where this project is going to go and the last thing I need is to get fired because someone at work finds out something weird about me.

But what I can tell you is that for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling optimistic. Like this just might be the best idea I ever had.

So that’s my plan. I am going to start talking to strangers.

Wish me luck.