It adds up to three years of the average Canadian’s life, and researchers say it may be as high as two decades for those afflicted with compulsive friendliness. A team from The Institute For Interesting Factoids, a research group based in a bar with seven nights of trivia a week and a no drink-minimum (Trivia Shouldn’t Be Trivialized is their egalitarian motto) has revealed a wholly unsurprising yet still worthy fact: Canadians struggle to disengage from random chats with random people.
“Oh sure I believe it,” says Marge Beauchamp of White Rock BC, of the estimated 12 hours a week the average Canadian spends in polite chatter. “Just yesterday I spoke to the check-out girl for nearly three hours about whether it was going to snow today and melt tomorrow, or the other way around. She had to close the lane. I went to the bathroom twice.”
Jim from Dundas, Ontario, also agrees. “I bought a car because commuting on the train was killing my productivity. You can’t look someone in the eye without them telling you the detailed medical history of their dog who passed away in the 90’s. And, sure, he was a good dog, but I can’t bear all of that weight every day. No sir. Now I drive everywhere and don’t check my blind spot for fear someone will ask me my mother’s maiden name.”
The researchers say that their motivation for the study was two-fold. Beyond simply wanting to quantify the Canadian habit of not shutting up even when it would be a relief to all involved (it’s estimated to cost the Canadian economy is over $4-billion a year lost productivity) they also wanted to provide a gentle segue out of chats that should have stopped at the point at a single word of greeting, or even just a warm nod.
“Now people can simply repeat this fact to one another,” lead researcher Janine Duchovny offers. “That we as a nation spend more time engaged in idle chit-chat than we do reading to our children and speaking to our parents combined. We hope that will help to draw things to a mutually agreed upon close.”
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