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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Confession of an Introvert

by Tom Pappas

When I went to Home Depot this morning the only other customer in the store (I exaggerate) was looking at the exact item that I came to price. For our shower I want to install 12”x12” white tiles on the walls. I needed 12 boxes and it was possible that the other could buy so many that there would not be enough for me; I stood back hoping he would make a different choice.
After a while, I twisted my courage past my introversion and asked the other, “How many do you need?” He said a vague answer, then he went for a cart. The clerk and I chatted. Me: “Isn’t it weird that there are two of us that are here for the exact same thing? Clerk: “Yes, really weird.”

The other came back and started struggling to drag the cartons of 11 tiles to his flatbed cart. This was made harder because the tiles were strapped into bundles of two. As he was muscling the first pair off the floor onto the cart, I hopped (I exaggerate again) under the shelf to start sliding the bundles toward him.  He misunderstood.
The other: “I was here first, sir.  (Oops, he’s accusing me of getting them out for myself.)
Me: “I thought it would be easier if I pushed them out for you.”
The other: “Oh.”
                                                                              The plight of the introvert!  I did all the processing internally. He’s having a hard time. I’m good at teamwork. If I drag them from under the shelf to the aisle it would be a big favor.  I’ll help him get as many as he wants and then I’ll know if there will be enough for me.  It would have been plenty easy to say, “Mind if I help?” I tend to be the silent partner.
 Sometimes I am Laurel’s silent partner. On more than many occasions my wife has asked me a question or made a comment that required a response. My process is to immediately begin to formulate what to say. In my brain I cover the content of the topic and also the exact language I want to use to explain my response. It seems that the energy I’ve expended moves the meter so far that it feels to me that I have said out loud what I have concluded, when in fact, I never said a word.
The arc of my life has taught me that the Kingdom of God is the kingdom of right relationships. I find it strenuous to be in relationship with someone I love if they are so utterly discourteous as to disagree with me. That’s a friend or loved-one, and we 
all know what Jesus has to say about loving enemies in Matthew 5. 
My prayer is to be a person who is more transparent. With a little effort I can demonstrate to the other, friend or not, that my motives, answers, and opinions are not so important that only I get to know what they are.


  1. I'm the same boat, Tom. Thanks for framing it in a new light for me.

    1. I am thankful for your comment and always welcome a new perspective. Tom

  2. Thanks Tom. I read this in my adult Sunday school class today. Our theme right now has to do with blogs or other resources we use in our faith walk. Your topic led to some good discussion amongst us. The one thing we couldn't figure out though was did you get enough tiles or did you have to go elsewhere(said with a smile)?

    1. It's fun for me to hear from you. I am pleased to be quoted un an adult ed class. I hadn't resolved it when I wrote, but we have a second Home Depot in Lincoln and the north one (actually closer to my house) had 70 cases. I needed 17. Project done - beautiful.