Shh… I’m turning on the guy volume

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ columnist

A few years ago, lunch with a friend became a turning point.

The person serving me and Jennifer was a tip-flirter. That’s somebody who’s really, really, unbelievably nice to customers in hopes for a tip, particularly when the opposite sex is involved.

I knew this was a tip-flirter, but I was joking around with Jennifer. As soon as the server walked away, I said with phony bravado, “Jenn, she totally wants me.”

Jennifer laughed a little more than my joke deserved, and responded, “She’s still behind you.”

I left a huge tip that day, hoping the waitress would stay quiet in return. I was poorer, and in great need of “guy volume.”

The fact that you have no idea what guy volume is only proves how well us in the know have practiced it. Guy volume, which my friend Taylor told me about years ago, is the ability to have your words heard only by their intended targets.

The process is useful when you’re in a crowd and you have something really important and private. With guy volume, there’s no need to wait until people leave, or to pull somebody aside and attract attention.

Despite what the title may suggest, good guy volume has little to do with how soft or loud you speak. It’s based more on timing, inflection and vocabulary.

One of my coworkers asked me for a “guy volume” ruling. His dogs were fast asleep, and he tried to silently motion his wife to go up to the bedroom. His cues didn’t work, and she said, “What???”

The end of the story was the waking of the dogs. I told him it was the exact opposite of guy volume, because the message didn’t go through and, despite its silence, still got the attention of others.

One key is avoiding attention. When Taylor and I met at the coffee shop, guy volume items waited until our friends cracked open a book or took their first sip of lava-hot coffee. With their minds fixated on literature or keeping their mouths from being burned numb, they were deaf to our nefarious plans.

Another tip is to speak in words other minds don’t want to process. If Taylor and I wanted to go to lunch without others tagging along, we’d say, “Your turn to buy.” The other people ignored it, because their subconscious told them, “If you jump in this conversation, it’s YOUR turn to buy.”

I can’t teach you guy volume, just as Taylor never taught me. It has to be learned through trying methods you think will work, and throwing out ones that don’t.

And you always have to try, like I did a few weeks ago. A coworker walked by and noticed a plaque on somebody’s desk. I didn’t want to be in the conversation, but I wanted to make some other coworkers laugh.

“Ooh, tell me what you got this award for,” the roving coworker said.

“For minding her own business,” I said, while staring blankly at my computer screen.

One coworker turned red trying not to laugh out loud. Another told me, “Kevin, don’t say that so loud; they’ll hear you.”

Looks like I’ve got another person who needs to learn guy volume.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: