I’m not talking too fast. Stop telling me I’m talking too fast.

Sometimes people try to tell me that I’m talking too fast, so I’ll tell them back, even faster, that I’m not talking too fast, but that they’re listening too slow, and I’ll have said it so fast that they’ll say, “What? See what I mean?” and I’ll respond back, “See? Exactly what I’m talking about.” And eventually any further efforts at communication will break down. I don’t think that I talk too fast. I can’t stand it when people talk too slow. Introductions are the worst. I get that you’re supposed to be pleasant and polite and everything, but to me, it’s totally selfish to monopolize someone else’s time, to start off a conversation with, “Well good afternoon! It’s so great to see you. How have you been?” all long and drawn out, the word afternoon extended pointlessly and annoyingly by an extra two syllables (af-tah- her-noo-oo-oon.) It’s selfish because whoever is doing the talking is stopping whoever is listening dead in their tracks and saying to them, “All right, this is my time now. You’re going to listen to me. And I talk slow. And there’s lot’s of extra words that don’t do anything for the discussion.” I could get the same message across in about one second with a very succinct, “Hey,” or, “Hello,” if it’s somebody important, like the President. It’s not rude; it’s polite. Polite and respectful. Respectful and humble. And bold. I’m saving you time. Those seconds add up. I like to keep a running tally of all of the time I’ve saved throughout my life by cutting short the chit-chat. Let me just tell you that it’s a lot of time. I have it all on an Excel spreadsheet. Once I’ve determined that I’ve saved a week’s worth of time, solely from talking fast and getting straight to the point, I’m going to go on a week long vacation. And it’s going to feel great. It’s going to be a vacation totally outside of regular time. And as I’m enjoying it, I’ll know that each second of relaxation and leisure are because I didn’t waste so much time making everyone else listen to unnecessary filler words and fake pleasantries.

When I’m working as a waiter, I find that people from out of state (definitely out of the tri-state area) often mistake my talking fast for being rude. It’s not rudeness, although, once you point it out to me more than twice that I’m talking too fast, it can turn into a genuine being very pissed-off. I’ll go up to a table, “Hey, how’s everybody today.” If someone’s from out of town, they take this moment hostage and, without even having looked at their menu, start asking me ridiculous questions, or non-question, like, “We’re from out of town! We’re on vacation! Where are you from?” and I just want to say something like, “I’m from right here. I’m from this restaurant. I walked out of the kitchen just a second ago. And I came over here to see what you’d like to eat.” But that would definitely be seen as rude, and so I’m forced to play along with this inane banter, while I’m standing there chatting, and all of my other tables’ food is getting cold in the window in the kitchen, so by the time this table releases me from the bonds of this annoying pseudo-conversation, now I really am in a rush, and you want to see fast talking? Well I can crank it up a few notches and talk really, really fast. I could probably start reading what I’ve written so far to myself and catch up to this sentence, beating myself, getting here before I even have a chance to finish it. I just did it.

The worst is when people ask me for a list of something, like flavors of ice cream or brands of soda, these lists that I have memorized in my head, that I could repeat back to you without even having to disturb the conscious parts of my higher brain. And I’m not slurring my words either. My enunciation is spot on. But if I rattle off a list of words, however clearly, if people think it’s too fast, they’ll think that I’m not taking a vested interest in their well being, and they’re on vacation and they don’t like being talked to so fast, brushed aside, not wanting to hear about where you’re from, what’s wrong with you, son you’re going to have to slow down a little bit and repeat that one more time. So I’ve trained myself when saying certain things, things that I say over and over and over and over again, like what’s in your hamburger, or can you explain this dish, or which way to the subway, that I make myself say it like I’m talking in purposeful slow motion. But this just comes out all strained, like you can hear me mentally and almost physically restraining the vocabulary coming out of my mouth, and it just sounds like I’m almost constipated or holding back a very violent form of rage, or trying not to sneeze even though my face is all crinkled and it’s obvious that I have to sneeze and, just let it out man, you’ll feel better, why hold it in, but I’m not doing any of these thing, I’m not, I’m just trying really hard to talk slow, and also when I talk slow enough I’m over-thinking how I pronounce things, and a lot of time I’ll say things different slowly, different than I would ever say anything at a regular pace. (Butter Pea-Can? Butter Puh-Kahn? I don’t remember which one is mine. How do I say it?) So now I just try, especially when saying things like lists of ingredients or something, I say the individual words in my regular fast pace, but I put a conscious pause of a second or two in between each word. It kind of sounds like robotic, like how a robot might respond to you if you asked it what type of vegetables come in your chef salad, because I need to know every single vegetable, because even the slightest presence of some taste that I find objectionable, no matter how small, no matter how subtle the flavor, well I just can’t have that, and I’ll send it back. Did you say mushrooms? You really should slow down. But the robot thing works best of all, because at least it’s not rude. And I find that if I smile constantly, the whole time, then people are more likely to just think that there’s something wrong with me, something a little off, nothing sinister, maybe a little sinister, but the sinister is very forcibly being held back, this guy’s doing the absolute best that he can to at least try to pretend like he’s smiling at you, like he wants very badly for you to have a good time, because you can tell, because he looks so visibly uncomfortable, because he wants you to be comfortable instead, instead of himself, and so whatever, at least he’s not rude.