It started during that awkward time before a meeting where people feel the need to socialize. And normally I am cool with that. It breaks the ice and opens people up to be more engaging during the meeting. The topics of discussion are usually diverse enough so I feel a little bit included, and may even have something to contribute. But I knew that this meeting would be different. It was the Monday morning just after the super bowl. Where my freak flag fly’s itself.
For those who do not know me very well, I do not follow any organized sports. Haven’t for many, many years. I have nothing against those who do, I just don’t seem to possess the sports fan gene. This creates a huge gap in sports knowledge. Since I hold no intrinsic value in sports knowledge, I view any knowledge of sports other than the basic rules as trivia. No insult intended. I have found that my ignorance of sports related trivia is not only appallingly bad, but progressively getting worse. This is very similar my relationship with organized religion. I don’t necessarily deny the existence of god, nor do I speak ill of people who are devout, I just haven’t given it any thought. The longer I don’t think about something the less I retain of my original knowledge base. Trivia, like any vice, requires constant practice.
I expected that I would have to deal with sports fanatics when I came into work on Monday, so I tried to prepare the best I could. I watched some of the commercials on my iPad in the morning before leaving for work, and I even listened to the news on the way in. Unfortunately NPR doesn’t offer much in the way of in-depth coverage, so I listened to sports talk. It sounded like they were speaking Danish. I foolishly thought that a little education would be enough to fake my way through some awkward conversation. I figured that just a little superficial information would help keep me from making a social mistake. No, I don’t care too much about social mistakes, but they actually increase the chance a well-meaning sports fan to want to educate me on the game. Like who is playing whom, who lost, where it was played, and if that was a good thing or not. The only thing I learned after listening to the news, and watching the commercials was that “our team” lost big time, and that my dog may be a doberhuahua.
Before the meeting began people immediately started to analyzing the game, stats, where we went wrong, what Omaha means, etc… I sat silently waiting for this to end. What else could I do? The conversation reminded me of times when I was in Denmark and I found myself immersed in a room full of strangers speaking Danish. They are completely unaware of my ignorance and assume that I understood what they are talking about. By the way, this can go on for a long time if you keep your mouth shut and just look interested. Which is what I did at work yesterday. I kept my mouth shut and tried to appear interested. But not too interested. This is a tricky balance to maintain for any length of time.
“Fod bold er interessant for alle, men mig” Is what I heard. It seemed to go on for hours.
It was the most difficult work I did all day.
However, it was also a good learning experience for me. I periodically need to be reminded of this when I talk with my friends around my lovely wife. She must here the same things I was hearing at the beginning of my meeting. When I talk rocket propellant, chemicals for fireworks, or C programming robots, she probably hears:
“C-sprog er virkelig godt for mikro controller udvikling”