Coffee room. It’s silent as the grave. Almost hallowed. Two people are speaking with hushed tones in the corner, looking up furtively every now and then, as though half expecting someone to go ‘Sshhhhh!’
Eventually they get up and go an stand in the corridor to continue their conversation.
A new junior member of staff walks in, taking in the bowed heads, praying to their phones. He finds an unoccupied seat and eases himself into it, but not before he has manoeuvred his phone out of his back pocket. He begins the ritualistic chanting with fingers, swiping, keying in his pass code, tapping on apps, swiping across the screen, maximising and minimising with a flourish.
I have folded myself into a chair in the corner and survey the room, trying desperately not to laugh and ruin the…ambience. I cannot help but wonder who has the most interesting phone. What are they looking at that has everyone simultaneously engrossed? Perhaps there has been an earthquake? It might easily have passed me by as I have no TV, was running late late for work so missed the news on the radio that would usually update me, and I seldom open the BBC News app on my own phone, so uninformed am I. Mmm…perhaps I should check…
Nope, just the usual.
I have come to the conclusion that the smart phone is the introvert’s haven. A reprieve from excruciating small talk. We can now do away with the usual weather chat. We all have an app on our phone that confirms the weather outside of the window. We have an update about that very weather every hour for the next 12 hours. There is no need to discuss it and wonder about it any more.
Is everyone really multitasking and doing useful things like answering important emails, doing online shopping, paying bills and keeping up with correspondence? Or have they escaped to ‘Clash of the Clans’ to mastermind raiding a neighbouring clan to steal all their copper supplies? Is everyone sitting there living an alternative life on their phones, soon having to painfully drag their minds back to the present moment of being in the room?
Small talk..it can be an effort. I am not a natural. I do not have instinctive brain mouth coordination, which means lengthy periods of pausing before the next sentence, by which time the conversation has moved on. Through practise though, I have got better. I have moved on from making a list (yes, I was that person at school). If I have learned one thing from ultra running it is that you can train for most things. You can get match-fit for a conversation.
However, on this occasion, I am tired and need to preserve energy for the rest of the day. Since my phone is out, I will make a note to write about this later…