Sunday, June 13, 2010

Don't Speak

One of the things you hear the most as a kid is, "Don't talk to strangers." Now, most kids listen and understand at a young age. I apparently still have a lot to learn.

I've been riding the bus in Seattle since I moved here and I can honestly say that I have felt completely confident and safe up until an incident this morning.

This morning as I was waiting for the Aurora Village Express bus, I was approached by a man who clearly had some crippling mental condition. He hobbled along as he clutched his cane and smiled at me with a face marked by muscle deficiency. Growing up, I had experienced life with friends and family members who were handicapped and had not always been treated with kind regards. So when I saw him, my heart melted and I happily engaged in small talk with him. He began by asking me if I knew who the recipients of a basketball championship from years ago was. I then explained to him that if I couldn't answer a sports question if my life depended on it.

We continued small talk and niceties up until he asked the red flag question, "SO, HOW OLD ARE YOU?" I politely told him my age and he then asked where I lived. I pointed the opposite direction as panic began to creep in. "Over there." After assuring him that I lived with a bunch of housemates, and not alone as he'd inquired about, he changed the subject and I was mildly relieved.

He then focused the conversation back onto our ages. He said, "I'm 43. I'll be, 44 in August." I wished him a Happy early Birthday and said that I hoped it would be a good one. He responded creepily, "Well it will be if YOU'RE my Birthday present!"

A quick wave of fear came over me as I awkwardly laughed and looked down the road to see if the bus was coming any time soon to whisk me away to safety. Luckily it was about 2 minutes away and I changed the subject to the bus' proximity to our stop. I got on the bus and sat next to a girl up front close to the driver as he made his way to the back. I was safe at last.

After recounting the story to my friend John, I asked him why I always get hit on or propositioned by 40 year old creepos. His response was, "Because you keep talking to them."

Slowly but surely folks, I am learning my lesson.

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