Are you talking to me?
May 4, 2009
by Jen Bakken

All too often, the following scene takes place in the office of the Delano Herald Journal.

I am working, sitting at my desk while staring at the computer screen. One may say I’m in serious concentration mode, or another might call it completely crazy mode.

Many have commented on the silly way I am seated at my desk. I actually sit, with my feet off the floor, bent under me, in what teachers call “school style” or “criss-cross apple sauce.”

Nearing 40 years old, I should probably change this habit, because my knees are starting to complain.

During this time, I’m oblivious to things around me. Somehow I tune out the ringing phones and the sounds of my co-workers typing.

Surprisingly, I can even ignore the annoying label printer, noisily printing labels for next week’s paper.

Then suddenly I am snapped out of my “mode” by our editor Ryan Gueningsman, from his office in the back, asking, “Are you talking to me?”

Most of the time, I don’t realize I am talking to myself. And I apparently do this quite often because it’s become an office joke.

My co-workers will shrug their shoulders or shake their heads and say, with a laugh, “Oh, Jen’s just talking to herself again.”

This crazy habit of mine follows me, unfortunately, outside the office doors as well.

One day I was shopping at Coborn’s in Delano. While I stood in an aisle wondering where to find an item, a lady said, “It’s over in the organics section.”

I hadn’t even noticed anyone was near me, and she actually startled me. Although it felt as if she read my mind, it was obvious I was talking to myself.

This behavior has also been exhibited in my car. I’ll be stopped at a red light, happen to look over at the driver next to me, and find them staring at me while I am in a deep conversation with the KQRS morning crew.

Doesn’t everyone get irritated while driving and scold those who don’t signal their turns, or drive 45 miles per hour when the speed limit is 55 miles per hour and curse the fact that they are behind a tractor pulling manure and can’t pass it?

Has the frustration of using one of those self checkout lanes ever gotten the best of you when it yelled at you to, “Please place item in the bagging area.” and “Please scan item or enter item’s code.” or “Please wait for assistance.”

I can’t be the only one who has responded out loud with, “Oh, please shut up!”

My children are very aware that I do this. They will hear: “Oh, for crying out loud, who put the peanut butter in the refrigerator again?”

And, “Great, another pen went through the wash.”

Or, “You have got to be kidding me. My whole box of all occasion greeting cards has been used, addressed to random family members and third graders signed mysteriously from Brynna.”

Of course before I question the children (or culprits), they are already aware they’ve been caught and have had time to put their stories together.

I could say my mother had an influence in this case. She always mumbles to herself. In fact she used to tell me, “Well, I talk to myself because I’m the only one who actually listens.”

The alarm clock has even caused me to beg, “No way, it can’t be time to get up yet!”

Once in a dressing room, trying to stuff myself into a pair of jeans, I angrily grumbled to the full length mirror.

I didn’t realize I was complaining out loud until a lady in the room next to me said, “That’s why I start with a larger size and work my way down, rather than get mad while I work my way up.”

Though others have jokingly (I think), suggested this behavior is crazy, I should look into medication, or seek professional help, I prefer to believe this is actually keeping me sane.