Friday, August 12, 2011

Hypervigilance: What You Don't Want For You!

I am of a particular subset group of people who have a lovely little quirk known as hypervigilance.

"What is it?" you ask?
"It sounds fabulous!" you say?

Let me break it down for you.

Hypervigilance makes it very hard to focus on the immediate here and now, because your eyes, ears, and brain are simultaneously attempting to focus on the task at hand, while assessing ABSO-fuckin'-LUTELY everything else that is happening within earshot/eyeshot around you.

How does it work? I shall provide you with an example. Think of it like paranoia, with a little less 'crazy'.

The setting: A lovely, overpriced restaurant for breakfast somewhat in the middle of the room.

The company: An attentive and talkative Feyoncé™.

The low down: Hypervigilance allowed me to learn the following, even though I wasn't consciously, actively TRYING to hear what people were saying, or watch what they were doing. (My back was to the general mass of people in the room):

It's like having waaaaaay too many ears.

- The man beside me had accidentally flung his business cards out of his bag when I approached my own table. I picked them up for him and he thanked me. Then, through the course of our breakfast, I learned he was:
A) a lawyer looking to get the gentleman at the table with him out of insider trading charges
B) he found it humourous recalling stories of when his sister hit two separate men on two separate occasions in her car due to seizures, laughing as he said "I thought it was hilarious! I think the guy was a war vet and I've never seen a man cry like that!" accompanied by boisterous laughter.
C) I regretted picking up his cards and, instead, wish I had stomped on them.

- The server with the long ponytail does not like her job, as is evident with every forceful kick she throws into the swinging doors into the kitchen. This was sometimes punctuated with a long, loud, sigh.

- The daughter was clearly pissed at her mother, sitting about 3 tables away from us, as was indicated by the dour look on her face, her crossed arms, and her lack of ordering food or eating along with her mother. Teen daughter then proceeded to ignore her mother with her cell phone while mom fruitlessly tried to engage her in conversation.

"Uuuuuh, mo-om, I so hate you right now. Like. Whatever. Let me text in peace."

- The two ladies to my left, I'm quite certain, believe that there poo has no aroma, if you catch my drift. They were horribly rude with the waitstaff, and lady #2 went on to tell a tale about a woman she worked with (she described her solely using expletives) saying how this woman was clearly wrong because lady #2 has NEVER been wrong her entire life.

- The gentleman server listened patiently as the female server with short hair complained about the scheduling change and how she did not want to work the weekend again.

- Two younger guys at a table snapped their fingers to garner the attention of their server, more than once.

I forget the rest, but you get the idea. I figured this stuff out in about 10 minutes.

All the while, I was carrying on a conversation with Feyoncé™, thinking about a family health issue, making sure I was grabbing the soy milk and not the regular milk for my coffee, trying to remember to use my fork AND knife, because even though a fork can be a multi-use tool and can slice through eggs and hashbrowns, that's not how the 'fancy folk' do it...

It's like I am plagued by a persistent, ever-present Whisper2000. You remember that shit. Infomercial made of pure gold.

The Whisper 2000: Your greatest enemy or your best friend?

Anyway, that's your Freebie Friday: A lesson on hypervigilance.


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  1. Wow, sounds like you got way more than breakfast for your money!

    Now go get yourself a liquid lunch and lay down somewhere woman!!


  2. So, I think this use to happen to me when I was younger, then something inside just kind of shut off and now I have trouble paying attention to anyone talking. At all. Even to me. During a performance evaluation. "I'm sorry, what were you talking about? Oh, yeah. Listening. Sure, that would be a good goal for you. I mean me."

  3. it's hard to turn it off. i try to do it by focusing on awesome husband or the food in front of me or counting the dots on the tablecloth or the number of redheads or brunettes or blondes or the number of 'e's on the menu... you get the idea.

    i like to count.

  4. Yer exposing our super power. LOL

  5. i prefer to think of it as super doglike hearing and observation!

  6. Hah! My wife does the same thing only she stares at the people. I mean really stares for minutes and I have to say hey quit staring you freak and mind your own business!!
    I tend to just mute everything so I can listen to the crazy guy in my head!

  7. @Kelly - It's a component of breakfast I'd be fine without... however it DOES sound like excellent justification for the liquid lunch. ;)

    @Leauxra - It could be that you can't focus on the immediate because you don't realize how focused you are on everything else. Also? Does focused have two s's in it?

    @steph gas - Ooooh, hypervigilance with a dash of obsessive compulsive. I'm pretty sure we are sisters and just don't know it yet.

    @Floyd - DAMMIT! I forgot about the secrecy vow!

    @bruce - It's just so damn tiring! No wonder dogs take so many freakin' naps.

    @Bushman - Tell me how to mute!! PLEASE!!! And, yeah, the staring could get awkward. I just usually stare at the ground when I dissociate. lol.

  8. I really want a whisper fact anything with the word, well number 2000 in it gets me all, well, excited. It's so space agey and modern sounding.
    I believe I am super hypervigilant step above regular hypervigilant but one bus stop away from the hamlet of total screaming madmanville

  9. @Dan - I will keep my eyes peeled for a Whisper2000. You would put all those youngens to shame with their ipads and earbuds. Rock that shizz.

    And dude, tread carefully, because that line between super-hypervigilant and total screaming madmanville is a VERY fine one. I also love that term. That should be a band name.


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