Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sorry, I'm not interested 

I think I'm being tested, and if I am I'm not scoring highly.

I sat down on a park bench on Saturday (with the intention of reading the paper) and a woman sitting on the bench next to me said "I don't charge for you to sit down you know". Confused, I managed to smile at her and mumble "oh, thanks", and sit down. A few seconds later I manage to think up, "oh, so you'll charge me to leave then?" as the most suitable lame reply I could have used. I think about this for a few more seconds, then spend a few more seconds think about whether I've left it too long to use this reply. If I use it now it won't sound spontaneous. Won't it sound like I've spent some time actually thinking about what to say and have only managed to come up with this rubbish? So I spend a few more seconds trying to think up something better to respond with that may be worth spending time to think up. I don't manage to think of anything although I do consider the likelihood that I will come up with the perfect retort later in the day when I'm busy thinking about something else. By this time it's too late so I start to think of something to say that's unrelated to her original statement, with the intention of making me seem friendly. I don't come up with anything profound or interesting and disregard using anything normal like commenting on the weather (although it was a lovely day in the middle of October). Then I wonder what I am doing, why bother? The woman is probably either slightly mad, or at the least will annoy me when I'm trying to read my paper and drink my coffee, so why encourage her? So I just ignore her and eventually she gets up and leaves.

Ten minutes later I hear a girls voice saying "I've lost my ice-cream money". I assume she's talking to someone else. A girl of seven? (I don't know kids ages before 16) sits next to me and I carry on reading. She is staring at me. "Do you have the time?"
"No sorry I don't" (I really don't)
"What are you reading?"
Now I'm wondering what she is doing here? I instantly get paranoid, it's not possible for men of thirty to talk to seven year old girls in the park. And why would I want to anyway?
"The paper"
Then nothing for a few minutes. "I've lost my ice cream money, can you give me some money for an ice cream?"
I assume this is the scam, although looking at her she looks well dressed and presented. "I don't have any money, sorry"
Then I look up and notice there is an ice-cream van at the other end of the park, so maybe she is being genuine. Oh well, too late now, and I'm not going to be seen giving money to a young girl to buy ice-cream.
A few minutes later "Ok, I'm going then".
I say nothing.
I look up and see her on the other side of the park. She has found a bronze statue of a young girl with bobbed hair sitting with her knees drawn up under her chin. She is staring, transfixed by the statue, and begins to stroke the girl's head.

Today while walking home a man crosses the road and asks me for 30p for a phone call. I think back to the last time I refused someone money for a phone call, and how I found out later he was genuine. Then I think back to the last time I did give someone money for a specific purpose, and how they were not genuine. A guy with a rucksack (and no bike) asked for pound to help him get a bus to Newport, I deliberated, then gave him the money. Twenty minutes later I saw him cycle past me in the park. I tried to chase after him to ask for my pound back, but he ignored me.
So I didn't give the guy the 30p, and probably I should have.

And I struggle to get involved in conversations with random people because I can't answer them spontaneously.

And I struggle to deal with hecklers or jokers on the street (and there are many), because I can't think spontaneously, so I just say nothing. And later I come up with the perfect retort and think "If only I'd said..."

And I struggle to approach people I really should talk to because I will only let myself open with the most perfect, witty and profound comment. And this comment never exists of course, and by the time I've realised this it's too late. One of the biggest big-wig geeky computer hackers who I've been in awe of lives in Swansea, and he and his wife travelled up to watch the rugby in Gloucester the other day. I was sitting in the same train carriage as them, and when I got to the ground I noticed they were standing directly behind me. And all this time I was desperately thinking of the perfect opener for me to get to meet him. And when the game was over and I was on the way home and it was too late I realised that I should just have turned round and asked him if he was enjoying the game.

You should have complimented him on his beard.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

More blogs about travel.
Technorati Blog Finder