Reprinted from November 1998
Have you ever heard the expression “He can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” It really means a person can’t do two things at once. I seem to be surrounded with this type. Chip, for instance, comes to a dead halt when he starts to reiterate something.
One afternoon we were short employees and we were pulling together. I said something to Chip and he stopped pulling and leaned on the counter and started to expound on the subject. I didn’t say anything and finally he got tired of standing on one foot and went back to pulling. About five minutes down the line I made the mistake of mentioning our sorry garbage service we have, one drum and one truck, no men. Instantly Chip stopped, resumed his stance on one foot, leg crossed and elbows on counter. Finally, I said to him, “What is it with you that you can’t talk and keep on pulling?”
Chip’s propensity for stopping what he is doing extends to the customers. If a customer is waiting on a battery and Chip has three other customers waiting, he grinds to a halt and concentrates on the one customer ignoring everything else.
This annoying habit isn’t limited to Chip. Yesterday I had my carpet cleaned. A smartly dressed young man arrived with an enormous truck and started quickly to work. He was scrubbing away and as we passed, I said, “that is really a nice rig you have.” Instantly the machine was turned off and the worker reiterated the specifications of the rig, exactly what he was able to do with it, etc. Recognizing the malady, I kept inching away from him. This probably took at least five minutes.
This morning at the beauty shop my hairdresser turned on the TV. Someone was doing some imitations of famous Mexican stars. I was already late for work. My hairdresser was whipping my hair around doing miracles and to make small talk I said something about how good the actor was doing those imitations. It was just “make talk” because I really didn’t recognize this actor or the one he was imitating.
The hairdresser just stops twirling my hair and puts down the brush and comb and starts telling me why this actor is not doing a good job. Mostly she is telling me in Spanish, and having lived in El Paso for 60 years I cannot understand one word. This entire tirade is carried on with her pacing back and froth, waving her arms and verbally accosting me because I had no opinion.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a friendly situation. She had her opinion and I was stupid to venture mine because I didn’t know anything about the subject. I was saying, “Please God, let her get back to my hair and help me get out of this…”
I was sure Chip would be angry because one of the employees was sick and he’d expected me to be on time to help open. As it turned out we both were late. I thought we’d fly into setting up and get on with it, but I made some kind of remark about current events – I think it was about John Glenn. Chip stops setting up, leans on the counter and starts giving me his ideas on the subject. I glanced over and said, “Can’t you walk and chew gum?” Somehow this annoyed Chip and he went back to his bench. This would be a longer article except I had to set up alone today and now I have to open the door for business.