… all you really wanted. However, the person whom you asked for the pencil felt compelled to go the extra mile for you and you wind up with not only a pencil but also a whole big box of pencils, and a new eraser, and some ink pens and lunch and a puppy, while they’re at it.
Overkill is funny.
I had taken a screen capture from my pc and printed it. I walked over to the printer. As often happens in a shared printing setup, I had to leaf through a small stack of printouts which had yet to be retrieved by their owners. I came across one – quite unnitentionally I assure you – that caught my eye (my easily distracted, attention deficit eye, that is). it was a concise glossary of useful terms that would come in handy.
Someone was standing behind me as I oooh’d with terminological lust. My Gatekeeper was silently urging me to feel embarrassed at having been “caught” doing something forbidden, as if I’d been prying into someone else’s privacy. I wasn’t consciously aware of it, I just felt surprised.
Anxious to play it cool and act like this was no big deal (it really wasn’t a big deal, but that’s not what my neurotic emotions were telling me), I told the person behind me “This is pretty neat.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a list of terms that we could use, and what they mean.” I set the sheets back on the printer.
“Oh. Do you need to know who printed it?”
“Umm…” We were both walking away now, back to our seats. She stopped by someone’s seat and asked them if it was theirs, explaining what it was and that I “wanted” a copy. Speaking for me (don’t you hate when that happens?).
No, it wasn’t them. She kept asking other people. One offered to look for it online and print one out for me. Like a zit that gets bigger and redder if you pick at it, the situation was growing way out of proportion to its humbler origins. I hadn’t even said I wanted it, hadn’t asked for it, but everyone was dropping whatever they were doing and attending to my “request”.
Has that ever happened to you – when people overreact to something you’ve said which was really just an idle comment or desire? You try to tell them it’s no big deal, you didn’t really mean it / didn’t really want it that bad, to no avail. They react as if it’s more important to you than it really is, and they go to way too much trouble to answer your question or acquire for you what you (half-jokingly, or just to make conversation in an effort to demonstrate that you’re not a shy, avoidant loner who thinks too much and takes life too seriously) seem to be requesting.
Then I get annoyed. (I got annoyed but don’t show it.) I got annoyed because I felt embarrassed. I got embarrassed because I felt exposed. I felt exposed because I felt self-conscious about the sudden increase in attention being paid to me, especially over something trivial.
I made it back to the safety of my seat and waited for the inner alarms to die down.
Yeah, I know – silly story. But (mostly) true. Based on real events, the blog’s motto.