“I’m so shy now I wear sunglasses everywhere I go.” -Al Pacino
I am an introvert. By definition of Psychology Today, “Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits. Their disposition is frequently misconstrued as shyness, social phobia or even avoidant personality disorder, but many introverts socialize easily; they just strongly prefer not to.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/introversion
I have a working theory that my epilepsy has made me have an introverted personality. For me, having a seizure in front of people is always embarrassing. It makes me want to be alone more often and because I am used to be alone, I am not a great conversationalist.
I try and use the bus as much as possible because conversations with other bus riders is almost nonexistent. The extent of a bus conversation is typically a nice hello and goodbye to the driver. I like to go one step further in order to avoid conversation. Plug in the headphones and pull out a book. Nobody will bug me if I look busy. But paying the $18.00 to get across town in 20 minutes versus an hour is just so tempting! Sometimes using Uber or a cab is worth forking over the dough.
Being alone with a stranger in a car requires some sort of conversation! Being an introvert I certainly like to keep to myself, but a 20 minute ride in silence with a stranger is incredibly awkward. To my introverted friends, I was once told that people like to talk about themselves. That has been the best way for me to keep a conversation going with random drivers. In my experience I have developed several go to conversations to have with drivers. Per usual, always start out with hello. If the driver just grunts, leave it at that and ride in silence. But if they respond and carry on with, “how are you today?” be polite! Keep the conversation going, it makes the ride so much more comfortable. A couple of questions I have found that keeps the driver talking are:
Have you been busy today? I promise! This opens the door to hear about their crazy adventures driving around town. An Uber driver recently told me a story about when he worked downtown for a cab company. A hooker, a pimp, and some drugs all walked into his cab (sounds like a set up for a joke). He ended up having to call the police! The woman passed out in his back seat and the pimp ran off as soon as the driver stopped at a light. It turns out that the woman passed out because she was on meth. The pimp was caught and no surprise he was abusing the woman. “That is why I drive for Uber now. That was just too much for me,” he said.
What about this weather? A typical question, but for a driver it brings up all sorts of stories. An Uber driver was thankful he was able to help me get across town. It was incredibly chilly out and he had been working in Boulder. “These students just don’t want to walk in the cold! The only fares I was getting was to drive a couple of blocks.”
How about them Broncos!? Be careful with this one… The Broncos are in a tight spot right now.
I have a few tricks up my sleeve for when the conversation transitions back to me as to why I chose to get into a car with a stranger (they never offer me candy, so I know it is safe). Sometimes I’ll stretch the truth a little or just flat out lie:
My car is in shop My dream car, the Tesla Model S. Mmm Autopilot…
We only have one car and my husband has it today Can’t really argue with this one. He is the bread winner in our lil family.
I don’t have a car Technically this is true. Our other car, the Green Machine, is insured under my husband’s name as no car insurance company wants someone as risky as me on the road.
I don’t drive This is true. but I always follow up with I don’t feel comfortable driving and prefer the bus.
Since my surgery, I have gained confidence and now know to just be honest and tell them I have epilepsy. What’s it to them if they know? The extent a driver will follow up with has been a couple of questions, mentioning they know someone with epilepsy, and sympathizing with my situation. I have had a fair few that were uncomfortable that I even brought it up, but most wanted to know more. Brain surgery is fascinating! The brain is such a complex part of our body. Hearing about surgeries and various treatments for neurological disorders allows for conversation and spreads awareness.
Just in case you are an introvert like me, here are a couple of sites that offer tips and questions to help keep a conversation going:
Killer Conversation Starters
250 Conversation Starters
This Is the Brain Circuit That Makes You Shy
Mastering the Art of Conversation: 7 Steps to Being Smooth