Those awkward silences in life are even more painful when you're an introvert. Don't get me wrong. We like silence and basically want to have it almost all the time. But there are situations where there's an expectation of conversation. At these times I reach for a handy social crutch: humor. Of course, there's always a risk that the joke will fall flat.
Recent example: I was in an elevator at the state Capitol and had to lug a huge trunk full of materials that were used during an event. I was taking up quite a bit of space with this trunk in the crowded elevator. So I thought I ought to say something. Quick, Adam, come up with a joke.
I channeled one of my favorite comedy films and said, "I feel like I'm hauling John Candy's luggage in Planes, Trains and Automobiles."
The first reaction from my fellow elevator riders: dead silence. I thought, Oh no! Nobody got the joke. But suddenly, after a few seconds, another passenger blurted out, "Those aren't pillows!" which is, of course, a famous line from the same movie.
Thank you, elevator guy, for bailing me out.
(If you aren't familiar with Planes, Trains and Automobiles then this probably makes no sense. A word of caution: the film is NOT family friendly.)