Dealing with the General Public

2198 2198_ () 2198 2198 Yesterday I had a totally frustrating encounter and it reminded me of that old saying about being able to be a saint until I walk out my front door. When it’s just me and Jesus, we are good to go.

Henry, Isabel and I were running an errand and I opted to get a treat for us after our mission. We were pulling into a parking spot at a strip mall, zipping in to meet my sister-in-law for some fro-yo. I did a little back and forth, aligning my van just so, making sure that I didn’t park too far to the left or the right and end up preventing someone from getting in their vehicle.

I finished my parking job, grabbed Isabel from her seat and opened the driver’s door. I told Henry to climb in my lap and we’d all get out my door.

As I opened my door, I kept a firm grasp, making sure it didn’t swing open into the very cute little Volvo¬†sports car parked next to us. Henry climbed down, and I followed after him holding Isabel. I got out and as I was closing the door, a young woman came marching quite deliberately out of a restaurant right in front of my parking spot. She walked towards us, got right next to me and paid me absolutely no attention.

She was staring at the Volvo, hunched over quite intently. There she stood, ignoring me and giving me her full, agitated attention all at the same time.

“Is something wrong,” I asked after second. She clearly wanted me to notice. “Did my door hit your car?”

“It’s fine,” she said with a huff. “Yes, you hit my car but it’s fine.”

She marched back into the restaurant and I headed off to our destaination.

I was shaken by her rudeness and also sad that I didn’t have the presence of mind to say, no, we actually did not hit your car though it may have seemed that way from your vantage inside the building. I was upset with myself for not pointing this out, because I was so taken back by her passive/aggressive communication skills that I failed to defend myself.

Oh well, I thought later, taking yet another deep breath. No harm no foul. Her car is fine and I guess that’s all the matters.

This morning, I was at my regular jaunt grabbing some morning caffeine and sitting to feed Isabel. I do this sometimes, get out of the house for breakfast to gather my thoughts before coming home, putting the baby down and getting some work done.

I tend to go to the same places over and over. Today, I was in one of those places and an old man who I’ve noticed before, he was standing by the restaurant’s entry as I walked inside.

He said hello as we walked in and I politely nodded. I didn’t want to say much because a few months ago, this same guy sat right next to me when I was having lunch. It was very frustrating. He’s clearly not all there and I know that sounds mean to say but it’s true. He tried to talk with me and after a few minutes of me sort of answering, he didn’t really catch on that I’d had enough. I couldn’t totally understand what he was saying and I felt like I had indulged the conversation long enough.

“I’m going to eat my lunch now,” I finally said pedantically, and then put my full, one-hundred seventy-five percent attention on Isabel and our meal. The old man sat and continued to stare at me and I was *this close* to saying something when someone I knew came into the restaurant and I invited my friend (quickly and loudly) over to eat with me.

Whew.

Today, the man was outside and I hoped he would stay there. Just the same, I sat at a table near lots of other people, whereas normally I sit a bit more isolated to make lists and write. And sure enough, five minutes into my meal the man came in and sat across from me. I ignored, ignored, ignored with all my strength. No luck — he came over and offered me his extra hashbrown.

“Thank you,” I said with a smile, “we have plenty of food.”

He looked blankly at me, a lone, brown tooth projecting from his lower gums. I didn’t want to kick this man while he was down, but please, I wanted to say, don’t force me to be rude!

He went back to his table and sat down and I finished up. As I was standing to leave, he rushed over and offered to throw away my trash. It was very nice indeed yes it was but my goodness I am not looking for a friendship here. I just Vant to be Alone and really don’t want to have a confrontation with someone who is probably just trying to be nice and is not totally all there.

I gathered my things, had my keys in my hand and with Isabel firmly on my hip, headed out to the parking lot and dove into the van.

My new plan is to not go back to the restaurant anytime soon, which is frustrating. But I don’t see another option, beyond having to cause some kind of scene with a person who probably gets treats like dirt on a regular basis.

Some days the life of a hermit seems oh-so-appealing. Then End. 2198″

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