Baumhower: Baby, we know it’s cold outsideWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | email@example.com
The following is a public service announcement on behalf of every gas station clerk, grocery store checkout worker and bank teller. The aforementioned employees are all well aware that it is freezing cold outside, so can you please pick another topic of conversation for your one-minute transaction?
Part of my morning routine is a trip to my local Speedway, where I purchase an oversized diet soda and, on occasion, a peanut butter and chocolate treat in the shape of an upcoming holiday’s symbol, like an Easter Egg. As I fill my soda, I tend to watch the clerk’s station and always eavesdrop on the meant-to-be-overheard conversations.
The majority of the time, these 60-second conversations cover the escalating gas prices, the current Powerball amounts and some measure of suggestive selling. One recent morning I watched with pure amazement as a line of 10 people all discussed the very same topic with the clerk when it was their time to pay. Every customer complained about the freezing temperature outside, a blistery 6 degrees, as if they had never lived in Northwest Ohio before, as if the collective population of Toledo magically had its mind erased like in an episode of “Lost.” The fascinating part of my people-watching was how the clerk handled each customer, like he had not heard the news before, nor had the ability to feel the temperature or look outside.
“Man, it’s freezing out” a customer complained.
“Blizzard Bill said it was supposed to reach zero tonight,” the next customer coldly opened.
“Yeah, I heard it’s 6 outside right now,” the seasoned clerk replied. This went on with every transaction until it my was my turn to pay.
“How do you do it?” I asked. “How do you have the same exact conversation all morning long and maintain sincerity?”
The clerk looked up and calmly replied, “This is what we do.”
My bank is conveniently located within my local Kroger. Later that morning, I watched the very same behavior in an entirely different venue. The bank teller called the next customer and voila: insert your favorite it’s cold outside quip. Rinse. Repeat. Call the next customer. This happens all day long. What I find most fascinating about this incredible human behavior is how we just all overheard the customers in front of us and yet when it is our turn, we jump right into the weather thing, like there is nothing else going on in the world or our lives. I know there are numerous clerks that will start the conversation and steer it toward the weather, but they are just trying to be friendly and topical.
Can you imagine working in one of these lucky professions, where you have the same exact conversation hundreds of times every day? I am surprised the suicide rate isn’t higher. This may be the sole reason Speedway doesn’t sell rope. If you believe you have a unique weather connection with your teller, then you need to submit that clerk’s name to the Academy Awards, because the person deserves an Oscar!
It is not my intention for you to ignore your local clerk. What I am asking for is that you come a little more prepared for your morning conversations. Listen to the customers in front of you. If they spend their moment complaining about the weather, maybe you can address the Super Bowl during yours. If they complain about the gas prices and somehow indirectly blame the clerk for the economy, you may want to choose talking sports or Kardashians.
Here are some other starters:
- Who do you think is going to win “Stars in Danger: The High Dive?”
- Who would win in a fight, a Smurf or a Snork?
- Should there be a law that bans stripping over a certain age
- If you were to be trapped on an island with one member of the WTOL-11 news staff, who would you want it to be?
You could make someone’s day at work. Who knows — it could be your quip about aging strippers that saves a man from jumping off the High Level Bridge into a frozen river.
Follow Jeremy Baumhower on Twitter @jeremytheproduc or friend him on Facebook.