Dangling Conversations

I was trying to think, earlier today, why I can't think of anything to say in this space.  I think it might be because everyone else has said it all, already, in the last week:

1. Walking down the hall, I spot someone ahead to whom I don't have time to talk.  I furrow my brow in concentration on the paper in my hand -- a blank Substitute Reimbursement Form.  No good; she calls out to me anyway with a friendly platitude.  I smile and toss an answer over my shoulder as I continue to stride purposefully down the hall.  Undaunted, she continues to talk at louder-than-normal volume.  Politeness forces me to turn around to face her so that I am actually walking backwards, away from her, as she pursues the conversation to its bitter end.

2. Leaving class, I chat with a fellow student in the elevator.  Our conversation continues into the vestibule and along the pathway to the parking lot, at which point I start to become nervous: it's below freezing and I'm only wearing a sweater, preferring a few moments of chill to several overheated hours in the classroom.  I hurriedly try to tie up the exchange, but he is intent on finishing an elaborate story.  I branch away from him and head to my parking spot; he stays put and continues talking, his volume increasing with my distance.  I stand shivering next to the car, inches away from the blessed heat, waiting for him to be ready to say goodnight.

3. Heading for the copy room, I meet another teacher and say hello.  We walk together, talking about an upcoming meeting, and I offer my thoughts.  As she responds, she begins walking faster until she is 10 or 12 paces in front of me, but still facing forward and still continuing her end of the conversation.

4. Waiting for tea to finish brewing, I stare out the window in the faculty lounge.  I'm admiring the way the snow has fallen into the crevices of the huge sycamore tree, and the way it looks thrown into relief against the neat rows of brick houses.  In comes another teacher, who is suffering from an acute case of Blitherer's Disease.  He tells me how heavy his bag is, what the students are saying about the weather, what he thinks about what the students are saying about the weather, how many doughnuts are on the table, and how many doughnuts there were on the table when he was here earlier that morning.  He's not talking quite loudly or directly enough to require an answer; he may just be talking to himself, I think, until I turn around with my tea in hand and he ends with, "Know what I mean?"

Either I am a much better listener than I thought, or the people I meet just have a lot to say!