Douglas Adams and John Lloyd wrote a book called The Deeper Meaning of Liff. It's the sort of book that makes fans chuckle, though a dictionary of hundreds of new words with wacky definitions is a bit hard to absorb. It's a thumb-through-er in other words (and wow if spell check didn't let that one by).
The word that stuck out in my mind the most was dalmilling, which means roughly "trying to make small talk to someone reading". For any of you have tried reading in public, you probably know what I mean. You sit down in a cafe, library, break room (oh God, especially break rooms) or outside the front entrance and, before you know it, you have a conversation start up around you. One that you do not want to participate in but one that requires you most of all as a participant. One that cannot be avoided by keeping your answers to "uh huh" and "oh". One that cannot be stopped by simply holding the book up to cover half your face. One that will turn sour and be your fault it failed if you say "Um...well, I'm trying to read this...". One that usually starts with "What are you reading there?"
As far as I can tell, these people assume that no one would rather want to read over social interaction. That, or they are an ass.
I was talking to a friend about it today, how he lost a whole day of studying for a college test because someone spent hours talking to him while he tried to read. Tonight, in response, I created a little "business" card that looks something like this:
The idea is you download the pdf (which is in version 0.1, so a rough version at the moment) and then you print them out on cardstock and them cut them out with scissors. They are right about the size of a business card. Keep a couple in your wallet. If someone is annoying the hell out of you, just hand one over. Or, if someone regularly annoys you and you don't want to confront them, just drop one off on their desk.
Future copies may have tips on how to avoid dalmilling ("Are the reading? Do they look like they are enjoying it? Could you get by in life if you did not talk to them? If all of these are yes then it is probably best to move along.") on the back just to help send the message home.
Note, I'm setting up the pdf for all who want to download and print, but the original is Adams' and Lloyd's. I do recommend the book. Not quite as memorable as Hitchhiker's, but a good number of my friends would enjoy it.
Article and Cards Written by W Doug Bolden. Text of Cards written by Adams and Lloyd
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