Monday, December 7, 2009

Crazy People Versus Chatty Strangers

Upon leaving the library on the hunt for nourishment, I walked out in a blustery cold December day. I had a thin scarf on my neck and a semi-warm jacket. Nonetheless, I was freezing. As I was walking to a venue that sells food, I subconsciously made a look on my face that said "I'm fr-freezing." When suddenly, I had a peculiar encounter. A man approached me from behind and began to carry on a dialogue with me. I felt very uncomfortable and I gave him the "go away-don't talk to me-leave me alone-Cancha see I'm busy?" look.

He began analyzing my attire which only made me stiffen up even more.
"You look cold."
"You need to wear warmer clothes. I recommend boots."
"What kind of socks are you wearing?" "
"You need those Swedish socks. Do you like that dog over there?"
"That's a Saint Bernard, right? Like Beethoven."

I responded vaguely by saying things as tartly and curtly as I could. "I'm fine." "Uh huh." "yeh..."

We ended our conversation when I confirmed his suspicions of a dog being a Saint Bernard by concurring, "Yup, that's a Saint Bernard, like Beethoven."

Then we entered the grocery store and went out separate ways. He headed towards the produce and I headed towards the bagels.

I began to ponder my rude behavior to this young man (who was properly dressed for the temperature). I was, in fact, rude and cold with him. In retrospect, I analyzed the encounter and came up with the following conclusion.

You might be surprised to hear me say this, but I think he was fairly normal (despite him carrying on a conversation with a complete stranger who happened to be improperly dressed); he was just friendlier than most. And that puts people on edge when they're taking walks to the supermarket.

He actually wasn't one of those crazy people who want something--money, sign this petition, are you registered to vote? etc. I think he just wanted to make random small talk on the way to the grocery store. But I, like so many people who live in cities (small town behavior is something entirely different when it comes to long conversations in the streets with strangers), have a Wall up complete with electric barbed wire on top. Immediately I question their motives. They must want something out of me and I will do my best to ignore them by giving them short answers and body language that says "Get lost bozo!"

However, in some rare cases, people just want to talk about wool socks with strangers and comment on the frigid weather.

The problem lies in that it is difficult to distinguish who those people are. One just has to follow their gut feeling. But keep in mind, that gut feeling might transform after the encounter has terminated.

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