I walked into the elevator this morning and an elderly woman who lives on the floor above me was already inside. As usual, the silence quickly devolved into small talk.
Elderly Woman: So, you're on break from school?
Me: Nope. I graduated last year. I'm going to work, actually.
Elderly Woman: Where are you working?
Me: A law firm in midtown.
[My Inner Monologue: How are we only on the fourth floor?]
Me: Where are you off to today?
Elderly Woman: Doctor's appointment.
At this point, we reached the lobby and I figured I could just do the ol' sprint-ahead move. But they had just wiped the floors, so I couldn't walk quickly. And so, the small talk had to continue as we meandered down the long corridor to the front door:
Elderly Woman: So how do you like your job?
Me: It's OK. Sometimes I get pretty involved in the cases, which is nice.
[I am starting to sweat as I worry that I won't be able to get rid of this woman in a nice way]
Elderly Woman: Are you thinking of going to law school?
Me: We'll see. I want to keep my options open, but it's certainly a possibility.
FINALLY, we reached the front door. I figured we'd be going in different directions and that'll be that. But it turned out we were walking in the SAME DIRECTION! This was getting pretty bad now. But, true gentleman that I am, I kept the conversation going:
Me: Actually, I just read an op-ed by a law professor in the Journal who said if you aren't totally serious about law school, then it's probably not--
Elderly Woman: --OK, you have a nice day there.
And with all the energy in her feeble body, the elderly woman walked past me and turned the corner. She pulled the ol' sprint-ahead on me. How fucking lame am I?
I guess I had always assumed that uncomfortable elevator small talk was for the old ladies' benefit. Now I realize it is for no one's benefit. Lesson learned. The hard way.