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Mental Processing Speed (or lack of?)

Here's a scenario which occurred for me at 2am last night, which relays my insecurities about my "mental processing speed" (let me know if you relate)...

I woke up around midnight feeling hungry, so I went to the kitchen to look for something to eat. Being that I wasn't satisfied with the contents of the fridge, I drove to the nearest 24-hour Safeway. 

I walked in, picked up some milk, English muffins, & brownies. The store was nearly empty, so there was no one available to ring me up at the cash register. 

I found the nearest employee stocking items on the shelf, and she came over to ring up my items. I noticed she moved quickly, was cheerful, but didn't engage me. She had blue & pink streaks of color in her black hair, brightly colored manicured nails, a nose piercing, and some other facial piercing. I thought it was odd that she seemed so cheerful at 2am, but then I figured that she was probably more a routine night person. 

A couple in what looked like their 30's, came up behind me with some grocery items. They were wearing t-shirts, so I figured they were recently at home lounging around. I myself was quiet, serious, and observant. 

Upon the arrival of this couple, the cashier girl picked up the, what's it called, walkie thing at grocery stores (where when you talk into it, whatever you say can be heard on speakers all over the store? the way an employee might locate a kid's missing mother in the grocery store, you know what I mean? I'm must going to call it a "walkie-thing-which-communicates-to-all-speakers-in-the-store"). 

So upon the arrival of this couple, the cashier girl picked up the "walkie-thing-which-communicates-to-all-speakers-in-the-store", briefly spoke into it, then continued finishing up my transaction on her cash register. The couple behind me immediately laughed at this, and even though I knew the couple was laughing at the cashier girl, I couldn't figure out what cashier girl had said over the "walkie-thing-which-communicates-to-all-speakers-in-the-store" (even though I also plainly heard it).

My first thought was, 'Okay, this is one of my oblivious moments.' I tried to calm myself from self-criticism, and was able to recall what was funny.

The cashier girl had said, jokingly, "Hurry up and buy!" and hung the "walkie-thing-which-communicates-to-all-speakers-in-the-store" back up (implying that if there are other shoppers in the store this particular 2am morning, there's now a cashier at one of the cash registers! Hurry up!). 

I only got around to laughing at the realization of this humor, a full three minutes or so, when I was already walking out the door. The couple behind me had laughed, immediately. 

Here are my theories about why this happened (with me): I think I shut down in terms of processing external information when I become intimidated by my ability (or lack of) to interpret the information, in addition to not trusting my own judgments & perceptions. I believe that if I learn to stop being intimidated by information, trust myself through my own perceptions & increased confidence to be able to interpret the information, that I will be able to do so with more ease.

This makes sense for me psychologically, because, I am an individual who was raised as a child with messages such as, "You're not worthwhile, unless you do X, Y, or Z. You're not good enough, so step it up. I love you, but only if you do this. Thinking for yourself is bad, and if you love your mother you will do what I say (I know what's best, you don't)." Therefore, training me to not have confidence in my own eyes, ears, and thoughts (aka my own perceptions). I am working on that. 

But, that aside, I'm wondering if it might be an "infj-thing", and one of the infj faults of being less observant of (even obvious) concrete external surroundings. We're always in our heads, breaking down abstracts ideas (or do I speak for myself?). 

Do you relate to this, because of a negative history, or because it is an infj-fault? What are your thoughts? 

Thank you for your input.


4 comments or Leave a comment
cactus_rs From: cactus_rs Date: October 1st, 2012 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
More mundanely, those speakers are damn near impossible to aurally process sometimes. They're so static-y and crackle-y, I hate it.

I sometimes "check out" too, especially in a situation like that where I'm not intending to go socialize (like emergency grocery store runs).
tabular_rasa From: tabular_rasa Date: October 1st, 2012 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, this sounds familiar. Especially when I'm tired or otherwise not at peak energy, my focus is usually a combination of narrow concentration on what I'm doing and within my own head. So if something happens beyond the scope of my concentration-- sudden sensory input I wasn't expecting, an unexpected interaction, etc-- usually one of two things happens:
1) it takes me off guard and startles me, and it takes me a minute to work out what it was that just happened, even something as simple and nonthreatening as a greeting from someone.
2) I miss it completely. I can't tell you how many times I've been walking or driving and later told someone across the street or whatever was trying to get my attention and I had absolutely no idea, even if I apparently looked in their direction.

For me, I'd chalk this phenomenon more up to literally not processing fast enough rather than not trusting what I hear, but I do second-guess myself constantly when it comes to other things (am I going the right direction? etc) so maybe.

Though I also agree with cactus_rs that those darn PA systems are a b*tch to decipher even you're sitting waiting with baited breath to listen to one >.
comewhatmay1987 From: comewhatmay1987 Date: October 1st, 2012 09:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I guess I should also clear some things up:

-I wasn't tired, but I was hungry. I was serious & concentrating on my inner thoughts.
-The speaker-thing was pretty clear, but maybe I didn't expect to understand it. Normally it seems pretty official to me, and through the speakers cashiers will speak in some kind of "code" (so I didn't expect to be able to interpret what was said).

That said, whatever it is, I'd like to find some remedies for it!

And, do you know what the mbti label is for that flaw? Was it, lack of "extraverted sensing"? That sounds right, maybe.
phoenix_glow From: phoenix_glow Date: October 3rd, 2012 10:22 am (UTC) (Link)
This is funny, I think I do the absolute opposite when I interact with people in stores. I kind of go on hyper-alter to them. I notice their name tag, I try to think of them as individual people, and I go out of my way to say something funny and personal to them. I guess it's a game I play. Unless they just obviously don't seem like they want to chat, then I leave them alone and just act polite. I also try to stop and try to notice the things around the cashier that I zone out of in line - balloons hanging up, last minute things for sale. I remind myself not to sleep walk through things. I'm pretty strongly INFJ, so I guess it can manifest in different ways.

I am absolutely terrible in responding to jokey, teasing comments made to me that catch me off guard. I can be "on" when I chose too, but I'm often not quick on the uptake.
4 comments or Leave a comment