Part 3 of my book The Ultimate Guide to Not Sucking at Human Interactions: An introvert’s obscure advice for succeeding socially is here! I discovered upon review that my subtitles were different in parts 1 and 2. *Face palm* Some writer I am.
Part 3: Multitasking and generally appearing more productive than you actually are so you can pass as a normal human when you’d prefer to live in a cave with nothing for company but your phone and Wifi and maybe a dog
Chapter 11: How to shake hands and remember your name whilst introducing yourself to a stranger
Toastmasters is an organization that helps people improve their public speaking skills. A couple of years ago, I looked into joining. At first, I wanted to join Toastmasters because I had the pipe dream of becoming a standup comedian.
There are a ton of Toastmaster clubs in Dallas, and I visited a few to see which one would be the best fit. One night, I went to a meeting and the club president asked me my name. I think I handled it pretty well (I told him my name and not someone else’s).
A few minutes later, a different man walked up to me and stuck out his hand. I shook it, and it was a good handshake. The guy told me his name, but I was so focused on the handshake, I didn’t hear what he said his name was.
About five minutes later, to my abject horror, I realized I hadn’t told the guy my name. I just shook his hand like an idiot and forgot every other aspect of an introduction.
Upon this revelation, I melted into the floor and became a puddle of goo. Picture what happened to the Nazis’s faces in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Trust me, my self-combustion was not helpful, and it put a damper on the meeting.
I’m not sure how they managed to put me back together, but it would have been nice if they thought to add a smidgen of social acuity into the mix. Unfortunately, I’m even more awkward now than I was before.
I did some research, and once someone turns into goo like I did, the susceptibility for future episodes rises exponentially. Now, my goo-complex is triggered whenever I have to multitask in social situations; for some reason this includes sneezing in front of other people.
Therefore, once again, I cannot live up to the promises of this chapter. Sorry for the letdown. If you need to, go ahead and lower your expectations to the subterranean level.
Tips to circumvent forgetting your name in public: A list
- The biggest challenge is remembering your name during an introduction. I advise breaking it down into more manageable pieces. The best way to do this is to create a sign that introduces you: Hi, my name is Jane Doe, and I forget my name whenever I shake hands with people, so please forgive me for not speaking to you. I am a nice person, but my vocal chords are disconnected from my brain as soon as I make eye-contact with a stranger. It was a pleasure to meet you! Please feel free to tell me your name fifty more times tonight so that I can have a better chance of remembering it. But don’t be offended when I have no idea who you are next time we meet.
- Okay, maybe you need to make a t-shirt. Or a flyer. Or both, to be safe.
- Get your name tattooed on your left hand, and take a peak right before you shake someone’s hand. This doubles as a great method for making sure you are easily identifiable in case you get murdered and the person takes out all your teeth to ensure the FBI cannot determine your identity based on dental records.
- Number three is also good in case one of your fainting spells leaves you with retrograde amnesia. Make sure the tattoo artist spells your name correctly, though. Identity crises are not fun things to sort out.
- Change your name to something simpler and easier to remember. It helps if it’s something said in normal situations. For example, you could change your name to “My Name Is” that way you only need to remember one aspect of an introduction.
Chapter 12: Remembering what you want to order at a restaurant and articulating your order in a way the waiter can understand
My mom ordered for me at restaurants until I was twenty-five. Ordering food has always caused me great angst, and I never went to restaurants without my mother present until a few years ago.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I’d go, but I had my mom on speed dial so she could order for me in emergencies.
My parents threw me a little party the first time I ordered all by myself at Chili’s. Part of the problem is I am a picky eater, and I have to give specific instructions to waiters about my food.
I have a hard time speaking up in loud places, and since my orders are always weird, I don’t feel comfortable yelling my order for the entire table to understand. That’s what makes my mom so great. She endured that embarrassment for me. She was a real trooper.
Appropriate things for an adult to order at restaurants that also help you avoid talking too much: A list
- Hot dog—just two syllables. Doesn’t get any easier than that. Unfortunately, I do not like hot dogs, and most restaurants don’t have them anyway.
- Chicken Fingers with Fries. More syllables, but also more delicious, not to mention, more universal to restaurants. Somewhat surprisingly, Mexican places usually have chicken tenders.
- Steak. I only order this if someone else is paying. It’s only one syllable, but steak is always the most expensive thing on the menu.
- Two hard tacos, meat and lettuce only, and two side orders of pita bread. I guess now you know my order at Taco Bueno.
- I love hamburgers, but ordering them at restaurants is risky. Most places do not understand that plain and dry means no cheese. Here’s a typical conversation with someone at fast food restaurants.
Me: Yes, I’d like a hamburger, plain and dry.
Employee: Do you want cheese on that?
Me: Umm. Just plain and dry…
Employee: So, no cheese?
Me: Correct. No cheese.
Inevitably, the employee looks dejected when it is confirmed I do not want cheese on my burger. I’m sorry, I just think it’s weird to have cheese, which is dairy, on a hamburger, which is a dairy-maker’s dead husband or boyfriend or partner or whatever a male cow is considered.
Chapter 13: Being around people and not letting on how weird you are
This is the toughest challenge I face as a human. Forget eye-contact and shaking hands. Hiding my weirdness trumps every other struggle. Everything else falls under the objective to avoid revealing how odd I really am.
As a shy, nerdy introvert, this is impossible, of course.
I have a weird thing about numbers. I love prime numbers, and I’m glad I’m getting to write about them on chapter 13 because 13 is prime, and prime numbers are amazing.
I was at a Toastmaster’s meeting once, and I talked for a minute about numbers. My weird came out in full force.
I told the group that before I go to bed, I always set my alarm for a different time. When I set my alarm, I check to see if the number is divisible by 3. I can do this quickly by adding up all the digits in the number I choose, and if that number is a multiple of 3, it’s automatically divisible by 3. So, if I were to set my alarm clock for 4:50, 4+5=9, and 9/3=3. Boom. 450 is divisible by 3. I then figure out what the answer is (150).
The time I choose does not have to be divisible by 3, but I like to check. The other day, I also learned the trick for seeing if a number is divisible by 7. You take the last digit of the number, double it, and subtract it from the rest of the number. If the resulting number is a multiple of 7, 7, or 0, that number is divisible by 7.
I set my alarm clock for 4:41 the other night, and it passed the 3 check. I then checked it for 7, and it’s also divisible by 7. 1×2=2, 44-2=42, 42/7=6. Eureka! 441 is divisible by 7 (63). 441 is also divisible by 9. And I discovered that night it is the square of 21, and 21 is my favorite number.
When I shared this with the group, their minds were blown. It is completely pointless information given the ubiquitousness of calculators, but I still think it’s a good mental exercise before bed. Don’t ask me when or why I started doing this.
Ways to conceal your weirdness in public: A list
- This is actually impossible. Safest course of action is to not go out in public.
- But if you must…
- Leave your stuffed animals at home.
- Do your best to not talk to yourself about your stuffed animals’ drama.