You can probably guess that I’ve been to my fair share of colleges as a punk rock HR pro and former Corporate Recruiter. I have an excellent collection of t-shirts and sweatshirts from Midwestern universities — given to me as tokens of appreciation from students, professors, and over-bloated alumni associations.
So I’m at Target, yesterday, and the woman behind the counter asked me, “What’s with Indiana? You like the state or something?”
Believe it or not, I get this question quite a bit. My reaction normally goes something like this:
Hello? Huh? What? Oh, dumb ass, you mean my t-shirt? Nebraska? Michigan? Illinois? Yeah, I’m a big fan of the state. I love the Midwest so much that I want to advertise its ‘stateness’ across my chest.
No, I’m lying. My stock answer goes like this:
I went to the school.
This is factually true (i.e., I’ve been there) and normally ends all conversation. It is a simple and concise way of explaining why I have a state’s name emblazoned across my chest.
But wouldn’t you know it that a guy behind me at Target, yesterday, was wearing a Michigan State t-shirt — and he piped into the conversation. He said, “Oh, Indiana? I went there, too!”
The cashier stopped paying attention to my order and asked him, “Why are you wearing a Michigan shirt?”
For real? Is this really happening?
Time slowed to a grind as this Michigan State dude began a long verbal journey about why his shirt is Michigan State, which is different (!!) than University of Michigan. Then he told us about his family, his daughter, and her unfortunate allegiance to the Spartans. The story somehow veered in a direction of randomness and landed on an tidbit about a car dealership (Audi) wholly staffed by Michigan State fans.
Holy crap, Suckers. I’m trying to buy a pair of socks and some mousse. Can you please just shoot me?
The Human Resources Generalist in me could facilitate the conversation for hours. How do you feel about your daughter’s decision to attend Michigan State? Give me an example of why your Audi is a true high performance automobile — and why do you prefer it over Lexus. What is your opinion of Michigan State’s chances in the Big Ten, next season?
The punk rock pro in me knows how to shut the conversation down with a simple statement.
“Excuse me,” I said, “I’m in a hurry.”
Silence ensued and my order was finished in moments. (The cash register lines at Target move rather quickly if you STFU and pay attention to what you’re doing!)
Was it rude to end the conversation? Maybe. What else am I doing besides spending money on impusle purchases at my favorite retail store?
Do I regret my rudeness? No way. I can’t participate in fake conversations about Midwestern universities that I really didn’t attend, yo.