The 48 Hour Rule

by vernsanders on May 11, 2010

OK…this post is probably going to get me in trouble, so let’s get on with it before I lose my nerve…

My name is Vern and I am an introvert. (Thank you for that smattering of applause in the 3rd balcony, and yes, to the gentleman in Box A, I know you already knew that, you didn’t have to shout…) It means, among other things, that it takes a certain amount of “ramp up” for me to be around people…particularly medium sized groups of people. For me, a small gathering (4-6 people I know at a meal, say) or a very large one (100+ people in a small ballroom, for instance), I can do…the first because I can really talk with someone, and the second because I only have to talk with someone if I want to (I learned, in my short time in the military, that if you stay in motion, and look like you are on the way to something, most people will leave you alone, particularly if you are carrying something).

But a medium sized group, for me, is a place that doesn’t easily permit meaningful conversation, and yet I can’t hide, either.

I love my family…along with baseball and apple pie, and still love my mom, though she passed away in 1991. In fact, this coming weekend I will be getting together with my 8 cousins, some of their children, and some of their spouses, at our annual family reunion. I think it is particularly appropriate that as part of the event we’ll be going to Fiddletown to hear some music. It will be a great time…this year we’re sharing old slides, and bringing our favorite vinyl album (bonus points to those who remember both of those).

I love getting together with friends. I’ll be going on from the reunion to visit some friends in Oregon and beyond on my way to speak at a conference in Canada later this month. And we live in an area where people love to visit us because the weather is almost always good, as is the scenery, the food, and the vine-produced adult beverages.

So keep those things in mind when I say that I figured out long ago, for me, 48 hours is about all that I can take. (That makes both my wife and daughter some variety of saints, by the way.)

I’m glad that the reunion is over a weekend, because that’s just about my limit, even with my family. And I love having people visit us, but if you want to stay for a week, you may be spending more time at the end of the week with our cats than with me. And when I am the one doing the visiting, I don’t like to impose for more than one night unless there are special circumstances.

For those of you who only know me by reading, know that by the third day of a conference, I’m having to work really hard to be sociable. And I know I’m not alone, because I find it somewhat comforting to observe your version of the glassy-eyed middle distance stare, particularly on a Friday afternoon of an event that starts Wednesday night and goes to mid-day Saturday. I’m the one that just might say (or have said) to you “been a long day already?” with an amused smile on my face.

Now for all of you extroverts, God bless you. I am in a semi-perpetual state of shock and awe at how you do it. Just cut me some slack if you catch me on day 3…

The alternative is cranky Vern, which nobody likes…including me.

What about you? Do you have a people/event limit? Please leave a comment and tell me what you do about it.

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