Sep. 18th, 2013

pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
In computer networking, there's the concept of a "handshake protocol." You don't just start sending data willy nilly, you send a specific initiation packet and wait for one in return, to establish everyone is prepared to receive and send data. I just realized I wear headphones not to discourage conversation entirely, but to force people to use a handshake procedure. They can't just start talking at me, they have to signal me and wait for me to engage, giving me a few precious seconds to switch gears. It also provides an easy signal for "good, this conversation is over."

At least that's the theory. In practice, people seem to start talking to me even though they can clearly see the headphones, and I enter the conversation one step behind, feeling guilty for "ignoring" them, and resentful for being made to feel guilty. I feel rude putting the plugs back in right away, but not doing so can signal I want to keep talking.

I had a couple of bad run ins with store owners this week. I want to go into their stores and look at things. Getting asked about what I want and shown stuff while they watch feels like pressure. Sometimes to buy it, but sometimes just to have an opinion when I don't.

Now I'm going to depart from abstract pattern and bitch about one person for a minute. My college town has a single comic book store, and the owner is an asshole. He had a real sense of entitlement to our money, and was generally oppositional.

I stopped into the store today, he started talking while I had headphones in. I took one out and said "I'm sorry" in my politest "I genuinely plan on listening" tone. He muttered something about not wanting me to have the headphones in at all something something feeling invisible. Not sure if he was referring to feeling invisible himself or calling out my attempt to be invisible, but my reaction to that was "okay, I'll leave." Which I have mixed feelings about, but there may not be a way to have left that situation feeling perfect.

It was bad enough when the lady at the hand crafted local artisan put a bird on it jewelry store kept trying to engage me, but at least she was pleasant, and she was in a store where a lot of the customers do want to talk. This is a bloody comic book store, and you're bad with people. Me physically walking in to buy something without wasting your time is a bloody gift, because I could have done that cheaper and faster on the internet.

I'm genuinely confused as to how this store is surviving in the age of the internet. The owner makes Bernard Black look like.. I dunno, I don't watch much TV with helpful shopkeeps. There's no such thing as the only game in town now that the internet exists, and most of the town is too young to have any nostalgia for ye olde comic book shoppe. OTOH, the constant influx of new customers may be what shields him- the employees are great people I actually enjoy talking to, and he's not there all the time. Maybe he just hates women


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