The Old Coot can’t finish a sentence

Conversation jumpers? Conversation stealers? I’m not sure what to call them and I’m not sure why they do it. Maybe it’s a physiological disorder – people afflicted with a bad case of “interruptionitis.”  

They jump in when you’re telling them something. Anything! Everything! Before you get to the point, they leap to what they think you are going to say. It goes something like this. 

You say, “I was walking to town the other day and it started to rain.” They interrupt and say, “And, you got soaked!”  – You correct them, “No! I opened my umbrella just as a wind gust shot down the street.” They jump in again with, “And, your umbrella blew inside out. Don’t you hate that?” Again, you say, “No!” And add, “It didn’t affect my umbrella. Mine is windproof; it has slits built into it so the wind escapes and it doesn’t blow apart. The wind gust that hit me blew the rain sideways and then I got soaked.” They get a smug look on their face and say, “So, you did get wet, like I was saying before you interrupted me!”

Your head explodes! They jumped in, stole your story twice in one minute and you end up in the hot seat, accused of interrupting. The trouble is, this isn’t a rare disorder. 

This condition, this affliction of interruptionitis, has become epidemic. It forces the affliction on you; it’s the only way you can get a word in edgewise. You can see the affliction in its advanced stage when you watch a news commentary show on TV. A host and a handful of guests spend the entire broadcast interrupting each other. They finish the talker’s thought and jump to a wrong conclusion. They bomb each other with a barrage of words to counter a point and prove the other person wrong. 

These shows start out okay; you think you might actually learn something, but soon enough, they become unwatchable. And besides, the only thing they discuss anymore is politics of the Washington DC variety. Like there is nothing else going on in the country or the rest of the world worth talking about. 

It has caused me to become infected with the interruptionitis affliction myself. As soon as the political wrestling match begins on TV, I interrupt with my remote and jump the conversation to channel 57, to watch people buy and fix up houses. At least the discussion on those shows comes to an amicable resolution. 

Somehow, we’ve got to confront this interruptionitis epidemic. I don’t think a “Just say no” (or “Stay mute”) campaign will do it. A “count to ten” technique might offer a solution. Counting to ten helps people with hot tempers. Counting to ten tempers the impulse to blow one’s stack. Even if it doesn’t cure the conversation stealers, the ones with severe Interruptionitis, it might just give the rest of us ten more seconds to make our point once in a while. 

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