At work, I usually tend to stay in my office a lot, working away at some web maintenance task and using deferred forms of communication such as email or ICQ to ask quick questions of my coworkers without needing actual human interaction.
I tell myself "I can't help it. I like email, and I prefer it to the telephone or face-to-face, at least for the little things". But underneath it all, I know that there is this little kid who really enjoyed being cloistered away in his bedroom listening to the radio and reading comic books for hours on end. I guess solitude has been a long-time companion of mine, if that doesn't sound too cheesy ;) (Christ - what a "drama boy")
However, every once in a while, something happens that throws that "I prefer solitude" self-model on its ear. Like today at work: I had volunteered to help the Activities Coordinators at our ESL school set up for a student Halloween party. I'm not the volunteering type, but this time I said yes, and was happy to pitch in. I figured I might be setting up chairs or hanging some lights or decorations - you know, helpy stuff like that, and then I'd be out and back to my workload in 30 or 40 minutes.
When the time came for me to pitch in, it turned out that I was asked to man a table in the "Haunted Room" (do I hear wolves howling?). This was Vancouver English Centre's version of a haunted house. The lights would be out and students could go from table to table trying out various (non)scary experiences. We had a Tarot card reading (although I thought it was supposed to be a Blackjack table), a Oiuja Board, a mysterious box thing, where you put you hand through one of six holes and maybe it gets grabbed by something inside (wooooo... creepy) and last but not least, me, with the "Goo Grab" table: a big salad bowl full of wet spaghetti and peeled grapes. (Maybe if one were blind and unprepared, you might momentarily be tricked into thinking it was a bowl of entrails with two scoops of eyeballs. Yum.)
Embedded deep in the bowels (eww) of my bowl were a number of white, red and black striped ping pong balls. If someone filched out a red ball, they got a big calculator. A black ball earned them the ultimate prize: an ESL grammar book. White balls were common, and resulted in a pick from the little candy basket.
Cut to the chase: I had a long line of students interested mainly in black balls and the resulting grammar books, and I had a blast encouraging them to submerge their mitts and try their luck. Wearing a black cape and some light-up deely-bobbers, I felt a bit like some kind of cheap Transylvanian carnival barker.
But, I had a great time, a hoot! And I don't mean getting some kind of thrill from watching people grope through cold pasta looking for small round items. (In fact, I never knew I liked that until just this afternoon. Who knew?)
I'm talking about the pure, simple joy of being social and having a small crowd of happy people to talk to and entertain with my witty banter and enthusiasm. It was fun and even a little exhilarating. I can honestly say that it brought out a side of me that I don't see as often as I should: that guy known as "extroverted, social, entertaining John". Maybe I need to see that guy more often. "Fussy, techie John" is certainly getting enough time in the spotlight. Maybe he should take five once in a while and let the other guy have a go.