Anyone reading this knows that I am not a conversationalist. This is perhaps highlighted by when someone asks me how I am doing. My standard response is usually "I'm all right." or "I'm okay." followed by silence. This is my message to the person that the conversation is over and that I'll be moving. Part of the reason I do this is indeed because I'm a prick and I don't care how you're doing. I will not deny this.
I am not completely a sociopath, however, as even though I don't ask, I still hope that everything's going just fine, even if you happen to be a complete stranger, even one that I don't particularly like.
There is a different reason that I don't reciprocate on this particular question, though. It is because, through many years of observation, that no one in the history of the world that, when asked that question, has responded something like: "Fucking shitty! My wife left me, my dog died, and when I went to a hooker to feel better, I caught a case of the crabs!" I'm exaggerating, obviously, but when you're having a bad day people tend not to confide in mere acquaintances in hallway; they bitch to their friends or significant others.
This, mercifully, brings me to my point.
A couple of girls that work upstairs bring me various FedEx packages and Priority Mails throughout the day, and usually they stop to talk to me for a few minutes. This is not because I am so awesome; it is because I think I represent a respite from their dull day and an escape from their boss whom I can say firsthand sucks ass.
This has been going on for a few months. The conversations aren't flirty -- they both have husbands and children from what I gather -- and they aren't particularly interesting. They've asked about my recent furniture shopping and usually query whether or not I got "wasted" on a particular weekend. (I think they think that I am an alcoholic that gets drunk by himself, which I can't technically dispute.) Usually the conversations end not because of an obvious "out" but because I am socially retarded and say things to them while walking away, or while not adding to a particular point I was making. Once, one of them -- upon learning I spent a night drinking in front of my computer -- mentioned that she had a friend that was particular lonely... my response? "I don't need any more friends."
Obviously there are no budding friendships between us.
Today, they came down as usual, and one of them -- let's call her K -- opened with "So when can I apply for the mail room position?"
I replied "I dunno, it'll probably be a long time."
"Aww, I'm about done with [my current position in the company]."
So I asked K against every bone in my body -- and every conversational experience I've ever had with anyone I've ever met that was not close to me -- "Sounds like you're having a bad day, huh?"
The two of them walked away while the other one -- A we'll call her -- said, "yeah, bad career even!"
I was kind of taken aback. I was being a decent fucking human being if only for a few seconds, and I was denied.
Perhaps it's as simple as that they were only supposed to come down and give me their FedEx packages and get upstairs because their boss was cracking the whip. This is entirely possible. But my cynicism (and low self-esteem) says it's something more like "Oh God, creepy dude from the mail room actually wants to talk me, what do I do? Oh yeah, bail!"
Now if this were the 23-year-old me, I would have written a 3000 word story about it and won an award in the process. But this is the 28-year-old me, and though I care enough to write about it, it doesn't bother me as much. I can just brush it off as interesting, and move on.