Tala, the Black Iris reader who sits across from me at work, was telling me about an interesting social observation she noted a while back. People in Jordan like to notice and know other people, so they can say they saw so-and-so the other day, or that they know so-and-so. For example. People seem to always be on the look out for other people when they’re driving around or in a common venue, such as a restaurant or cafe. I’ve realized this myself because I don’t seem to have the same heightened Spidey sense that tingles when someone I know is nearby, and even my own sister might go unnoticed by me if we were in the same place at the same time. But it’s not simply the seeing someone, but telling others that you saw so-and-so. It becomes something that is mentioned as readily as the weather.
Knowing so-and-so is also just as important. In an office scenario two people might be talking about someone while another person, busy at work, will suddenly rise to attention when a name is dropped on their radar. Suddenly they’ll say “oh, is that the son/brother/cousin of so-and-so, yeah, I know him”. I went to school with him. I saw him the other day. His parents are friends with my parents. We met in a past life.
People weave themselves into a conversation based on a familiar name. I don’t know to what extent they actually, in fact, know them, but they appear to, at least for conversation’s sake.
And with all that in mind, there’s also this incessant need to pick up on the small details associated with the sighting. This will range from the place they saw them, which is often in the form of “oh, I saw him/her at so-and-so”, or “he/she was coming out of so-and-so”, all the way to “he drives a bmw”, followed by details of the car model, year, color, estimated market price, and even the license plate. Other details will include what the person was wearing, whether they gained weight, whether they seemed busy or rude, what they were doing, what we think they were doing, where we think they were going.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
It’s also important to name drop. I know so-and-so. Do you know so-and-so. Of course it’s not only the important people, it can be just about anyone people know in common. I’ve seen people who take out their blackberry and go through a list of names, saying them out loud. The contact list on everyone’s cell phone is essential to survival. But it can also be in the simple form of “the other day I met…” insert an important name.
Suffice to say…
All of the above is something I find pretty annoying.