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Man Walks Across the U.S. while Obsessing about Next Summer’s Vacation

man_hiking_02Don Macomber, a plumber from Philadelphia, walked 3,876 miles across the United States to raise money and awareness for blistered foot sufferers. He hiked the entire distance while obsessing about his vacation plans for next summer.

Don kept a journal, chronicling the parts of the trip he could remember, starting with a close call in Indiana while walking absentmindedly in the middle of a busy highway. “I was thinking about renting a cottage next summer on the Jersey shore, and the next thing I know I’m in the passing lane.”

He doesn’t remember a thing about crossing Iowa or Nebraska. “Corn fields come to mind and I recall asking myself, ‘Should buy SPF 15 or 30 sunscreen when I go to the beach?’”

Macomber assumes he met countless people during his long trek. “ I vaguely remember a very nice woman offering me a glass of water in Illinois or Colorado. These acts of kindness, most of which I have no recall, from strangers reaffirm my love of mankind.”

This was to be Don’s only long distance walk, “although I may have hiked the Appalachian trail last month. I seem to remember something about wrestling a black bear in my pup tent.”

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Introvert’s Life Opens up with Help of Extrovert Therapy Dog

woman_with_dog_02Pamela (not her real name), a freelance 100 proofreader for a vodka trade magazine, is an extreme introvert who needs and values her time alone. But she also wants to experience things that her solitary lifestyle prevents, like meeting exiled foreign dictators and contra dancing.

She attempted to find a suitable date on websites like Shutin-no-more.com and eSemi-Social.org with no success. She eventually heard about an organization that matches introverts with extrovert therapy dogs.

“My life changed immediately for the better,” said Pamela. “On our first walk, Tad, my ETD, introduced me, well, pulled me to a woman hailing a cab, a man fixing a tire, and a couple arguing about money. If I was by myself I wouldn’t have noticed them.”

Like a lot of introverts, Pamela values being alone but also desires exposure to the outside world extroverts provide. “For many introverts like me, an extrovert is my window to parts unknown. Before I met Tad I had no idea packs of feral dogs congregated behind dumpsters in back allies.”

Pamela understands an extrovert therapy dog is no substitute for human companionship. “Eventually, I’d like to meet someone whose poop I don’t have to pick up. In the meantime, Tad has opened my eyes to new possibilities. It’s hard to believe I’ve lived this long without chasing a squirrel.”

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Sesame Street Introduces New Introverted Character, Solomo

introvert_muppet_01Sesame Street is set to unveil its new introverted character, Solomo. “We thought it was time to address the large number of kids who prefer to spend time alone reading or playing by themselves rather than seeking companionship with other kids,” said a Sesame Street spokespuppet.

Solomo will encourage introverted children by:

  • Showing the joys of being alone on a deserted rundown city street in a dimly lit neighborhood.
  • Encouraging them to be kind and considerate to their imaginary friends.
  • Explaining how to say in a nice way to extroverted Sesame Street characters, “I don’t want to open up.”
  • Teaching basic math skills like counting the minutes until they’ll be alone.
  • Giving other helpful advice to extroverted Sesame Street characters like: “Yes Kermit, it’s not easy being green, but it’s also not easy listening to a frog croak non-stop about it,”

In addition to being the first introverted character, Solomo will also be the first Muppet to shut his bedroom door so the camera doesn’t invade his privacy.

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The Introverted Life of Lt. Kojak

telly-savalas-twinjector-respectDetective Lieutenant Theo Kojak is one of television’s classic crime show figures. But did you know Telly Savalas, who originated the character, at first envisioned his gregarious alter ego Kojak as an intense introvert?

According to Savalas’ notes to the show’s producers, Telly wanted his character to work from home. From the quiet solitude of his den, he imagined Kojak observing crimes committed outside his apartment. He would then pick up the phone and notify his crack squad of detectives.

Chase scenes would include Kojak barking commands from his 4th-story window: “There he is! He ducked into the alley! Get him!”

Telly suggested Kojak could interrogate suspects via a special intercom in his kitchen. From there he could persuade them to confess before he tired of tedious browbeating.

Savalas’ introvert Kojak had no use for small talk. Instead of “Who loves ya, baby?” Telly preferred, “Given everyone you know, who do you think has a greater affection for you?”

He believed Kojak should have an occasional love interest. Telly thought the women should be young, beautiful, and “respectful of my space.”

At the end of each episode after a crime was solved, an emotionally drained Kojak would disconnect his phone, sit back in his easy chair, and do the New York Times crossword puzzle.

The show’s producers never agreed to Savalas’ requests, although it should be noted throughout the show’s run Kojak always lived by himself and never stayed long at parties.

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Dealing with Networking Difficulties

fish-handshake_0Networking for introverts is like listening thoughtfully for extroverts. It can be torture with a touch of agony.

Sometimes, however, you have to put yourself out there if you want to move your career ahead — or prevent it from going in reverse. Meeting new people is a big part of that process, even if means meeting guys named Hal from San Mateo.

You probably will never master Hal’s smooth hello or even Kathy from Atlanta’s almost sincere “I’d love to talk more about it with you.” But there are some easy-to-learn techniques that can help you survive over aggressive handshakes from sales reps and mind numbing small talk with anyone named Jennifer in marketing.

  1. Set realistic goals. Don’t overwhelm yourself with an ambitious agenda. For your first networking event, write down your objectives, then congratulate yourself. For your second networking event, plan to actually attend. You’re really making progress now!
  2. Always smile. This is not an easy if your normal facial expression resembles someone being strapped into an electric chair. It may take time to retrain your cheek muscles. In the meantime, simply insert a Popsicle stick in your mouth and bite down. You’ll look insanely happy and will be promoted in no time.
  3. Check your body language. Standing straight and making eye contact is good. Banging your head against a wall while saying, “I can’t do this” is not so good.
  4. Ask a lot of questions. It’s important to appear engaged. Your questions don’t have to be about anything relevant to the occasion. For example: How many paid Pagan holidays does your company have? Does your service have a guarantee against meteor attacks?
  5. Talk about yourself. Let people get to know you. How long have you worked for your company without a promotion? Are they planning to offshore your job? Why is your name tag written in Esperanto?
  6. Talk to someone who is alone. Chances are he or she will welcome anyone who will listen to their endless diatribe about negative market trends in Peoria. At the very least, you can practice pretending you’re paying attention. And if it’s another introvert you can both recharge by staring at each other’s shoes in awkward silence.
  7. Follow up. Call one person you met at the networking event within a week. If the conversation becomes uncomfortable, claim to be your identical twin sister who has some jealously issues. Apologize and promise to get some help.
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Confessions of an Introverted Santa

Santa_introvert_03bThe first time a kid sat on my lap, all I could think was “I need a cigarette.” – and I don’t smoke.

I know I scare children. I try to connect with them but they don’t see the real me.

It’s not that I’m unfriendly. It’s not easy for me to smile or make eye contact.  Why can’t they understand that? If they took the time and got to know me, rather than running in tears to their parents, they’d realize I’m a decent Santa.

I’ve never been a ho ho kind of Kris Kringle. I’m jolly in my own cerebral way. Kids never pick up on that. That shtick worked for Mort Sahl. Why can’t it work for me?

This is not an easy job. The small talk is brutal: “Have you been good girl this year?” “What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?” What I really want to ask is: “Are you adopted?” Do you have ADD?” “Is you’re mother divorced?” “Is she dating?”

The youngsters that I don’t scare off talk to me like I’m their friend, but they don’t really know me. To them I’m a jolly old man from the North Pole. There’s so much more to me than that.

Yes, it’s nice to bring joy to their lives, but it would be also nice to have an intelligent conversation about child labor exploitation in Bangladesh.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a total pessimist. I still believe in the miracle of Christmas and the goodness of man. And I believe that one day an adorable little child will jump up on my lap and say, “Santa, I get you.”

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Feeling Comfortable in Your Introvert Skin

comfortable_in_skin_01bAre you happy being an introvert? You’ve probably thought about this a couple or thousand times. “Am I content or do I subconsciously resent the fact that I don’t have 10,000 Facebook friends?”

Answering the following questions might help clarify things:

  • Is is okay when people who are uneasy with your silence say, “Speak if you can hear me” – particularly EMTs?
  • Do you enjoy playing one-on-none basketball?
  • While standing by yourself at parties, do you have any problem with people mistaking you for a coat tree?
  • Are you oblivious to the fact your job title is “That Woman Who Sits by the Copy Machine”?
  • While engaging in foreplay, are you comfortable asking to be alone for a few minutes?
  • Do you eagerly anticipate having an intelligent conversation with yourself?
  • Is it reassuring to know your dog is the one creature to whom you can relate?
  • Do you enjoy staying at home alone on a Friday night, reading a book about a person who is miserable staying home alone on a Friday night?
  • Is pretending to listen to your boss relaxing?
  • Do you enjoy playing host when your family arrives for an intervention?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, congratulations. Your insecurities don’t need to be taken in a scooch. Your skin fits just fine.

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