By Lee L. Benbow
As the University of Puget Sound approaches the ends of its first month back, big changes are happening. The two-weekend buffer in which students can start small talk with “How was your break?” is definitely over. There are a few stragglers who still cling to the idea of talking about their vacation to Canada or the amazing trip to an aunt’s cottage in rural Iowa, but that time is far gone. We do not have to fear, for in the wake of holiday recaps come the exciting prospects of schedules and weekend plans.
The Flail caught up with a couple students to see how their transition from giving a two-minute summary of January to December to just talking about classes is going. Senior Josh Jackson is having a pretty difficult time. “What’s most difficult for me is the change in content. I used to have 30 days of adventures to describe, but now I have until my coffee is ready and am only equipped with my new math class that I might drop,” he said.
Jackson is not alone with this struggle. On another perspective, The Flail spoke with sophomore Rachel Winers. Winers recently joined a club or two, Greek life and has a roommate. She found the opposite issue of Josh: “I am, like, such a busy person, it’s really not fair to myself or others to only tell part of my story. I feel the need to summarize and brush over parts, like my new microwave and the paper I got a B+ on. What can a girl do?” Winer shrugged. After the interview, The Flail reported that the small talk they had lasted 15 minutes past the polite five-minute mark.
Not all small talk is created equal, some one minute conversations reveal much more than any hour-long dialogues ever could. First-year Clyde Duda spoke about his experience with this. “One time I spoke with my roommate, David, and just by the way he said ‘Bro, today has been awful.’ I knew he had stepped in a puddle and made the rookie mistake of wearing socks and birkenstocks without waterproofing the socks first.” The Flail wasn’t really sure how one could waterproof socks, but was happy that the conversation was over.
There is a struggle that comes with small talk, there are many unwritten rules that even the most extroverted folk do not notice they have broken. For instance, junior — “but technically a senior due to AP credits” — Amanda Jameson confided in The Flail that, “Even I have broken the rules. Like, asking about your weekend is only okay ‘till Tuesday, and then you ask about your day or classes until Thursday midday, then weekend plans have their moment to shine,” Jameson said.
So much thought goes into the everyday talk that is essentially unavoidable. To seek strategies for avoiding contact, The Flail reached out to the school’s well-known hermit, David. David, who wished that his last name not be printed, denied to be interviewed with a small shake of his head without removing his sneaky pair of airports. How sad.
Moving forward from this article, remember firstly that it is no longer appropriate to discuss what happened in January of 2018, since it is over. Small talk is a fruit of labor measured in quality, not quantity. Distinguishing this is not an easy feat, but with the help of this article it may be achieved.