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Don’t Bother Me I’m Reading

A bit of a rant today. I am 50 pages shy of the end of The Goldfinch but I should have been able to finish this morning, had it not been for this overly friendly personality at the coffee shop. This person is sort of the neighborhoody ambassador who hi-and-byes almost everybody who walks by the cafe, which commands the view of the sidewalk through a huge alcove window. My acquaintance with this person progresses from pleasantries in apropos of politeness to casual chit-chat. But as many of you would understand, morning time is a time for quiet and solitude, and I am defensive of my privacy when it comes to reading. Unaware of the need for this privacy, this person takes the liberty to install herself at my table (which is fine as long as she keeps to herself) and starts talking up a storm—about things that distantly concern me, or her. Besides a few polite banter, I decide on the tactic of just keeping to my book and smiling, and so not to encourage further conversation. That seems to work. My being silent has trumped her effort at any further conversation—and hopefully might help her finish the book that she started two months ago but never seemed to be able to finish.

How do you cope with intrusive people?


11 Responses

  1. Oh man – that’s tough! In a way I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who enjoys their privacy while in public spaces, but I can’t say that I can help you. I struggle with not wanting to be rude but wanting people to get the hint already! Good luck.

    • It is tough. She is genuinely friendly, but being friendly in excess can be annoying. I welcome her joining me at the table, but I have remained quiet and riveted at my book. She seemed to have respected that.

  2. You just have a friendly face. No one ever approaches me. I think I have perfected the bitchy resting face. But man, the last 50 pages of Goldfinch require your utmost attention. I would have just told her nicely, that the book is really good and you really want to finish it.

    • Ha! Thank you Tina. I think I do have an inviting look. I have kept to myself at the coffee shop. I wonder if I’m the only one who is hard to talk to in the morning, early in the morning.

  3. I have the same issue at our local coffee shop. Luckily, I’ve gotten where I just say “I really want to finish this book” and they leave me be. Partly because my husband has made it public knowledge I’m grouchy without my book time. Now my main reading interruptions are named Atticus (age 4) and Persephone (age 2). I get up extra early to read (4 or 5 in the morning) before they wake up and I read on my lunch breaks at work. I’m a nicer mommy when I’ve had time to enjoy some reading and coffee.

    • Good for you! For me morning is the time in which I get most of my reading done in the day. Therefore I’m very defensive of my precious reading time. I just wish people would honor that. Since this post I have approached the situation differently, by being friendly and indifferent at the same time. I would engage in brief conversation out of politeness and not encourage further chit chat.

  4. When I’m reading, I can’t hear anything else.
    I have 3 default responses to people who talk to me when I am immersed a book: 1) OK, 2) Mhm and 3) Oh.
    This usually works, in the sense that it tricks people into thinking I’m listening.

  5. How do you know she started a book two months ago and never finished ??

    • I went home to visit my family in Hong Kong two months ago. She was reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog and is still reading, as of today. 🙂

  6. LOL 🙂 So you noticed

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