Dear Sadie Zarkin,
I am a waiter at a local restaurant, and I love my job. The management is great to work with and the customers are, for the most part, agreeable.
I love all my coworkers, too – they’re brilliant people. I value the time I get to spend talking to them before and after the hell shift.
But occasionally, they just start talking about sports.
Sadie, I am sports illiterate. I don’t know who I’m rooting for during a game, and I can’t tell if something good or bad just happened when the men pile atop each other.
When my coworkers start to discuss players and statistics and game results like it’s the plot of “King Lear” – to my ears they might as well be speaking Icelandic.
While I try to be polite and pay attention the only thing I gain from these interactions is an unavoidable need to fall asleep standing up. You can see how this adversely effects my work. What can I do to understand?
Let me preface my response by saying that sports – as broad a field as that encompasses – can be a fascinating, multidimensional topic with a number of jumping-off points for casual conversation.
It might not be an awful idea to tune into or even attend a local game – go with a friend who’s willing to fill you in on what’s going on and why it’s important. Maybe a little bit of exposure to what you’re confused about can fill you in on what the appeal is – and then you’ll really have something to contribute to conversations, too.
Maybe you could even pick something you like and take a lesson or two. If the thought is just appalling to you, then the old smile-and-nod will get you everywhere in life; spend the time picking up more tips from the patrons, and finally, think of how your coworkers must feel when you talk about the opera.
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