Misheard Small Talk

Picture by LinguistAtLarge.

Picture by LinguistAtLarge.

Do you remember the scene in Fight Club where Tyler Durden talks about his single-serving friends? He’s referring to the nice people you meet, say, while travelling and then never see again.

I’ve started striking up conversations with people I don’t really know. They’re not quite single-serving friends as we live in the same city (and sometimes even the same building), but if there’s something friendly to say while we’re waiting in line or squished together on an elevator I’m beginning to say it.

We don’t know each other’s names, but for a few minutes we share camaraderie. Often this works out well. And then there are those other times.

It was one of the last chilly days of the winter that wouldn’t end when an exhausted-looking woman and I boarded the same elevator. Her cheeks were ruddy and her hair looked a bit windblown.

“It is really cold out there?” I asked. I knew the forecast had called for pretty cold temperatures for this time in March, but I didn’t remember hearing anything about a windchill or strong winds.

Her shoulders drooped.

“I’m just so used to working two or three jobs,” she said. “I think I’m going to go back to sleep.” Her fatigue dripped furiously onto the mud-caked floor.

Eventually she figured out what I was actually asking, and we both agreed that Toronto is trapped in an everlasting winter without the promise of Christmas.*

But for 30 seconds I was very amused by the direction of our conversation.

What have you (mis)heard lately?

*Or at least that’s what it feels like.




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