I know people who prefer to receive my undivided attention when we're talking. That number is shrinking. If they've known me for long they appreciate that I am usually multi-tasking and it's not really meant to be insulting. It's just how I'm wired. Usually I don't even think about it, I just do the two or seven things at once, and everybody's happy. Sometimes it strikes me a little rude.
Yesterday while waiting at the Toyota service center, I talked on the phone to my dad. Yes, I know, that's perhaps rude right there - I was hesitant to do so - but we'd been cut off in the middle of something, it was really quite chilly outside, the TV there was blaring, lots of people in the room were on phones, and their waiting room is enormous. I took myself subtly over to a corner seat and made extra special certain I was speaking in a low voice. So I justified that I wasn't rude. And if you think I was rude, I'll give you another tidbit. It was Fear Factor playing on the big screen TV. People were eating worms. Or something akin; I tried to avert my eyes. I believe I can confidently say nobody was noticing me. (Every time I watch that show, I make it through the physical challenges but have to change the channel when the vile-material-eating part arrives. It's impalatable.)
So I was talking to my dad who was waiting in the car while my mother picked up just a few things at a department store he had no intention of entering. It was a nice chat. Then suddenly I watched myself pick up the In Style magazine laying on the chair beside me. Really, it wasn't as if I had any control. I observed the picking up, thought "That's interesting. You're in a conversation; why would you read a magazine too?" And of course I wasn't gonna' read it. Merely look at the pretty pictures. Particularly the jewelry designs, since they have all the hottest fashions there and I get great ideas. In my defense, I told my dad what I was doing. I'm certain he didn't bat an eye; he lives with my mother, after all. Queen of multi-tasking. It felt a courtesy I needed to bestow, though.
And while we talked, occasionally I had to hold my tongue. Such as when I turned the page and saw a photo of a midget dressed in old-world garb, standing on the side of the street. The advertisement said something along the lines of, "On your way, pick up a little German." They were advertising some sort of drink. I thought "How offensive!" And didn't say it because we were already talking about something that had its own momentum. I closed the magazine then, although admittedly I did open it again.
It's true, there's something rude about neglecting to offer my undivided attention to my loved-ones. And I acknowledge this so that when at all possible, I do my very best. But at other times, multi-tasking is king.
Now I have to go downstairs. And do a few things. Simultaneously, no doubt.