December 17, 2006

Your hairdresser, your masseuse, your dental hygienist...

Do you want them talking to you the whole time? If you don't, are they supposed to have a way to figure that out, is it your job to tell them, or do you just hear them out and bitch about it later to your friends? Maybe your friends think you talk too much. Is it their job to let you know or can they just put up with it and then bitch about to their friends? Do your friends write little style pieces for the New York Times?


Dave said...

You say "Sorry I'm busy, see you later." Eventually they gt the message that you're not one to trifle with.

I do this all the time with new doormen in my building. And I do it with chatty cab drivers, co-workers, etc., etc., etc.

I am here in life to do a job not make small talk. If I wanted to make small talk I'd become slick willie. Now there's something to aspire to.


Ann Althouse said...

You say "Sorry I'm busy, see you later" in the middle of getting a massage?!

AllenS said...

You say "Sorry I'm busy, see you later" in the middle of getting a haircut?!

Tim said...

Good thing the New York Times doesn't cater to the petty concerns of the self-absorbed.

And what's a Brazilian Bikini Wax, and why would anyone want to talk through one anyway?

Regardless, a cost benefit analysis seems in order - if your dentist is chatting away, you take it. If it's someone at greater distance, you passively respond - spouses do this all the time - and move on. If its really bad, you counter-attack - interrupt them, and tell them the story about the time your nephew through dog food into the pool so that Fido would jump in a go swimming...

Bissage said...

I dunno, Dave. I’m sure you know what you’re doing and all. But this guy didn’t have much use for idle pleasantries, either. Somehow or other, though, he got it through his head that the spirit within him should walk abroad in life amongst his fellow man or else it is condemned to do so after death.

In all fairness, though, it did take a while for the message to fully sink in.

Maybe you should try it. Who knows? You might like it.

caffeine soldier said...

"Is it their job to let you know or can they just put up with it and then bitch about to their friends?"

Ahhh, shut up!

reader_iam said...

Apparently, I apply different standards based on the service being provided. Never thought about that before. For example, I'd want a masseuse to be quiet. Especially since this is a rare service for me, I have no problem saying, sincerely and nicely, at the start, "Oh, I have been so looking forward to this!--just zoning out quietly and relaxing."

I won't go into the rest of the categories. But I will say that erring on the side of forbearance is a good idea .... we all of us are being put up with in one way or another in life. Anyone who thinks that's not so is displaying a self-blindness that others are having to tolerate!

Ann Althouse said...

A good talking masseuse is better than a therapist. It's two services in one. Same with a hairdresser. The key is to find someone who is good at talking and the other service you want. Silence is good too, but it's not the only way.

A related question is: talking during sex.

AJ Lynch said...

The story quotes one complainer ... "Shannon Lanier, a producer at CBS Television, is too tired to have conversations with his doormen, all of whom are brimming with stories, none of which are brief".

Yeah like CBS TV has so many interesting shows. Maybe this guy should listen to the common people.

dave said"I am here in life to do a job not make small talk".

So dave, you will be that one person who on his deathbed will bemoan that he did not work enough?

AJ Lynch said...

I like humor and joking around during sex.

But don't like yada yada yada during sex or haircuts.

reader_iam said...

Don't be like Faye Dunaway, lest you provoke the same expression as William Holden's! (Network)

Ann Althouse said...

Talking changes how you feel things happening in your body, but when does it help and when does it hurt?

Someone talking to you when you are in pain might help or hurt. When you are trying to experience pleasure, it also might help or hurt. Then there are experiences in the middle, that just have the potential to be boring. And the nature of the talking matters.

There are some boring experiences, like getting a haircut, that could become fun with the right mix of small talk. But there are also ways to make haircuts pleasurable without the talking.

There are some slightly unpleasant experiences that might become neutral with some soothing talk, like getting your teeth cleaned.

Who knows? This is a complex matter.

I've gotten into conversations during massages that made me completely forget I was getting a massage! I was just in some nonphysical part of my brain. It was weird. I had to rationalize that my body must, on its own, have appreciated the experience.

bill said...

Doesn't much of this come down to extroverts and introverts? Extroverts think everyone wants to have a conversation and quiet is a hole to be filled.

On the other hand, I, I mean those people who are introverts, out of politeness, will stand there with a half-smile shooting death rays out of our eyes. Too bad extroverts are too self-absorbed to notice. Do a good job and I'll tolerate your disturbance of a peaceful moment. Chatty and not such a good job, I'm moving on. Competent and quiet and you're in my will.

Tim said...

"A related question is: talking during sex."

That, of course, depends upon what is being said...

Dave said...

Bissage: Been called scrooge before. You're not the first. I like to think of myself as acerbic, not Scrooge-like. I still give spare cash to the homeless after all. And I donate used coats every winter. And I don't kick kittens or puppies. Give me some credit.

Tim: brazilian bikini wax--when they wax everything. See here.

AllenS: I've never had a chatty barber. Perhaps if I had one I'd just tell him to knock it off.

Ann: I've never had a chatty masseuse.

Bissage said...


I hope you're not mad. I was hoping you'd get a kick out of it.

Honest, I wouldn't spend so much time on a comment just to piss somebody off, but I would to make somebody smile.

Credit cheerfully given!

Ricardo said...

"See here."

Oh my gawd, Dave, that is more than I needed to know. FAR more than I needed to know. :)

reader_iam said...

Oh, Lord, now I'm back to thinking about Britney Spears.

Shut up, brain!

Bissage said...


Dawn breaks over Marblehead.


(I’m still trying to get the hang of these here inner tube conversation things.)

Finn Kristiansen said...

You can trust the NY Times to bring to our attention (on a Sunday morning over bagels and lox) the type of troubles that people all over suffer from:

"Don't you hate how the Janjaweed, when driving you from your home to the empty field, chat you up with boring stories about their home life, or how America is the root of all evil. So then you are forced to sit there, hands tied, and you respond that, "It's the LOVE of America that is the root of all evil, not America itself" and it goes on and on till you are finally there. I hate when that happens."

That said, I take the taxi to my job when late, and I don't mind the chat if it's not slowing me down, and so long as they are following my mood by not continuing to talk if my responses are curt.

Kev said...

When I was a kid, my dentist used to spend a lot of time talking college football while he was working on me (he was a UofTexas alum and a staunch Longhorn fan); the only problem was, he'd often ask me questions that required a response when there were four or five dental implements hanging out of my mouth. The most I could say was "fjkdasfjkldjl" or something like that. ;-)

(When my sister was in college, at Texas A&M, he got on her nerves quite a bit with his rampant Longhorn-boosterism.)

Palladian said...

Do what I do: pretend not to speak English, which works best in one-time interactions, such as with taxi drivers.

For other situations, limit your part in the conversation to one word answers and, when possible, answer only with a tight, close-lipped semi-smile or a nod. The other party often gets the message or gets weary at your detachment.

Of course, I'm lucky because I'm bald so I don't go to the barber or a "hairdresser", I don't go to masseuses because I don't let strangers touch me unless they have a nice ass and plan on cooking breakfast in the morning, I don't have a doorman because I live in a run-down old factory building in the outer boroughs, I only visit the dentist once a year (thank God for good genetics and floss) and I don't often take cabs, especially since the latest fare-hike. These, like almost all the problems in the loathsome style section of the New York Times, are the problems of the parasitic New York semi-wealthy.

Dave said...

Bissage--I'm not pissed off.

Apparently, though, per Palladian, I am both parasitic and semi-wealthy because I (1) get haircuts, (2) use the services of masseuses, (3) have a doorman, and (4) take cabs everywhere.

Better to be parasitic and semi-wealthy than to be pissed off I suppose.

(None of this should be construed as having anything less than utter contempt for the NYT style section...)

Anonymous said...

Reading this makes me appreciate my hairdresser all the more. At the salon I go to (when I feel I can afford it, like last week), they do this very nice scalp massage. The room where they do the shampooing and the massage is dimly lit with pleasant music and nice pictures on the walls. It's quite dreamy. My stylist never speaks during this time, but maintains pleasant conversation otherwise. I'm grateful he refrains from talking while weilding the blow dryer and I'm effectively deaf; I've had stylists who weren't sufficiently with it to realize that attempting to talk over the blow dryer isn't wise.

I have next-to-no contact with door men, taxi drivers, or masseuses these days, although in the past it was more frequent. I don't recall ever being roped into a conversation before. Even the baristas at the cafe I visit most often, who all know me and my children by name, don't get into extended chat sessions. They're pleasantly solicitous, though -- How are you guys doing today? -- and that's quite enough.

In sum, I just don't run in NYT Style Secion circles -- but that doesn't mean this article isn't yet another example of the type of non-problem problem the NYTSS excels in manufacturing.

Anonymous said...

This is not a problem. One look from me shuts them right up.

As for you, if you're all as boring in real life, who would want to talk to most of you anyway?

Lots of tips here on how to avoid human contact. Good idea! I'm sure I want to talk to a bald guy who lives in a dump in Queens and wears perfume.

I'll take the elevator. You take the stairs.

Tim said...


Went to ask my wife about the Brazilian Bikini Wax, and before I could finish saying "What do you think about Brazilian Bikini Wax..." she shot me one of THOSE looks.

I didn't finish; I don't think I'll be asking again...

Jennifer said...

These chatters waste "minutes you can't afford to lose." Huh. I guess that's why I'm always running late. I'm happy to carry my end of any conversation.

Shanna said...

That said, I take the taxi to my job when late, and I don't mind the chat if it's not slowing me down

I realize this thread is dead, but I want to complain :)

I took a cab ride one time with an ex-boyfriend and he insisted on getting the cab driver into this political discussion. At some point, the guy started complaining about all these “blond-blue eyed” americans “like us” and whatever he thought was wrong with us. I pointed out that I am not, in fact, a blond and he just pointed to my eyes because they are green. I was very happy when we reached our destination.
I had wanted to take the metro anyway.

Now, a hair cut in complete silence sounds very awkward to me.