I'm walking on a sidewalk, raiding Pokemon gyms. A bus stops directly in front of me. A slender old man gets out, and waves at me. "Hello, sir. My name is Chris, and you are?"
"Joshua." I usually say Alan or Alex as those are reasonably close to my name, and if the person turns out not to be an irritant, I can pretend they misheard me. I knew this person was going to be an irritant.
"Hello, Joshua. That's a Biblical name. Today the angels told me" of course "that I would meet a Joshua."
"Jeffery." I say. "I think you misheard me."
"Oh. Sorry, Jeffery. The angels told me I would meet a man to share a meal with."
"Sorry. I don't have my wallet with me." This is very true. I was out for a short walk, so I just took my Florida ID for identification purposes.
"Oh, I have money. I just ... do you know where there is a Chili's?"
I had just passed one, so I pointed in the direction, in case he really was just a Christian nutter (#notallchristians, #notallnutters).
"Spectacular. Will you join me for a meal?"
"No, thank you." I said. "I just ate." Which was true.
"I see. Did you know that this street is in" blah blah "county, and if you walk across the street you're in" womp womp womp "county?"
"I don't want to keep you from your meal. You have a good night, Christopher."
He reached out in my direction. "Oh. I'm not in a rush. Could you show me where the --"
"Sorry. I'm not from around here. I just saw the one a few minutes ago. If you just walk that way, you can't miss it. Have a great night."
"Where are you from?"
"South." I said as I walked away.
"Well, have a good night. I love you. I mean that. And Jesus loves you, too."
"Usually through a hole in a sheet." I said.
He then began walking in entirely the wrong way to get to Chili's. So I walked a little bit out of my way before cutting behind a Wal-Mart to return to the house I'm staying at. I didn't see him again.
We thought we had wandered through the entire top floor, and not seen the table or desk we'd been hoping for (oh, we'd seen tables, and, oh, we'd seen desks, just not the right size or style), so we got generic lunch in their generic balls of food department. After some crunch and sip, we went back in and discovered we'd somehow cut out half the showrooms. We snaked around, found a desk we liked, and then arrived in the bar counter and kitchen counter department.
Me: I think this table is the perfect height, and the width should be fine.
Comrade: Yea. It shouldn't block the entrance to the kitchen.
That had been a problem with most of the other tables that were the right height.
Random Claude: We just wish this table came in that height, don't we honey.
Honey: Yea. Sure.
Random Claude: We've been here for hours, trying to find the perfect table. We saw it online, but can't seem to find it anywhere.
Honey: I told you we should have written it down on your phone.
RC: I didn't think I'd forget it. It had some cute little foreign name.
H: They ALL have cute little Swedish names. It's a Swedish store.
RC: Well, I didn't know that.
H: I'm going to go the bathroom.
RC: That one comes with all four of the stools. For that price? You can't beat it.
Me: Oh, yea. We don't need stools, though.
Dude: Where would we even put them?
RC: Excuse me a minute.
She has had her phone out this whole time. I thought she was just one of those people that always had their phone out, but it turns out she'd been on hold.
RC, not adjusting her volume in the slightest: Hi. I'm calling about the results of my STI test. Yes, I know that's why everyone calls. Sarah Lastname. Could you tell me quick? I'm on a tight schedule.
She then begins to scratch herself.
We move on, and find a delightful counter with a half wheelbase that is now assembled and in the kitchen.
Neither of us caught The Scratch.
Today In "It's Not That I've Lost My Faith In Humanity, I Just Feel That YOUR Faith In Humanity Might Be Slightly Misplaced":
Guy I Haven't Seen In Several Years: "Do I know you?"
Me: "Yea, I--"
GIHSISY: "You're the poetry guy, right?"
GIHSISY: "I think I saw you and your boyfriend at a play slam once."
I scan back through my memories. And, though he wasn't my boyfriend, I know who he's talking about.
Me: "Yea, he was in one that I went to, and we went together once to watch one of his other friends."
GIHSISY: "Short Asian dude, right?"
GIHSISY: "Did you two ever have communication problems?"
Well, he would get angry with me without actually mentioning what he was angry about, and sometimes I would annoy him by not instantly calling him back when he wanted to talk to me but....
Me: "How do you mean?"
GIHSISY: "The language barrier. Do you speak Japanese?"
Me: "No. And that wouldn't have been helpful. His parents were Korean but he was from Wisconsin."
GIHSISY: "So he spoke some English."
Me: "He spoke All English. He's from Wisconsin. Not Korea. Not Japan. Wisconsin. Where English is the primary language."
GIHSISY: "I thought Koreans mostly spoke French."
Me: "No. Are you thinking of Vietnam, or Cambodia which were colonized by France? I don't think most people from either of those countries spoke primarily French, either, but I suppose it was more common there than in Korea."
GIHSISY: "But don't they also have a large French community in Wisconsin?"
Me: "In the 1600s, I guess. But now I'm pretty sure a good chunk of people from Wisconsin speak English."
GIHSISY: "Do you still see him?"
Me: "No. Last I heard he was living in New York."
If you even mention anything about him speaking Dutch, I'm going to brain you with this tape dispenser.
GIHSISY: "That makes sense. There are probably more people there who speak his language."
Me: "Sure. There are a lot more English speakers in New York than there are in Cambridge."
GIHSISY: "I wonder why that is."
Dude: I don't know. I feel like it's too hot outside. Want to hang out and watch anime?
Me: Depends on the anime, I guess.
Dude: You don't like me enough to hang out and watch ONE episode of Naruto?
Me: I don't like ANYONE enough to watch a single episode of Naruto.
Before the open mic, I stopped at Already Been Chewed Pizza (not the Problematic place, but the place next to The Cantab) to grab a couple of slices of subpar pizza for me, and some mozzarella sticks for Dr. Bobby,
While I waited, I checked FB on my phone. The person behind the counter called out "Slices", and before I could look up, the person behind me in line said "Your pizza is ready, Phone Guy."
Me: "Yea, I'm waiting on mozzarella sticks, too."
Random Person: "I hate Facebook. But I love it, too. I have 600 friends. I don't even know 600 people."
RP: "And people be messaging me, like 'Good morning, wifey.' Do you see a ring on this finger?"
Me: "I do not."
RP: "Wifey? Maybe if they got a million dollars, though, right? Not these 4.99 motherfuckers."
Employee: "Mozzarella sticks are ready."
Me: "Thanks." No, really. Thanks.
When I brought the food into The Cantab, I relayed the story and Simone pointed out that that was not an unusual human interaction for me. For someone else, maybe, but not for me.
After the night was over, Dr. Bobby, Manon, and I headed to Noir, the absolute best worst place to get a drink. I bought a round that was fun but uneventful. The good doctor bought a round that was fun but uneventful, and I was sent to pick up the credit card and the final round, and...the person in front of me ordered a drink, and then turned around and began singing "I just called to say I love you. I just called to say how much I care."
Singing Guy: "I just called to say I looooooooooove you. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart."
Me: "That's a great song."
SG: "No New Year's Day. To celebrate."
Me: "Wow. You know ALL the words."
SG: "Only my solitary heart to give away."
Me: "Those aren't the words."
SG: "I'm 66. Just like Stevie Wonder."
I order the drinks and ask for the credit card.
SG: "No first of spring. No song to sing."
Me: "You're literally singing, right now."
SG: "I just called to say I lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvve you."
Then he gives me a hug, I pick up the drinks and go back to the table.
Me "Tell me you guys saw that."
Dr. Bobby: "Oh, did the guy by the bar just serenade you and give you a hug."
DB: "He does that all the time. He drools all over me. I don't mean he finds me attractive and gives me attention, I mean he has literally drooled on me several times."
I am both relieved to find out that at least ONE weirdo's actions can be verified as frequently occurring oddness by at least one other source, and annoyed that he is a regular near the area where I work.
But I'm mostly relieved he didn't literally drool on me.
Today's Successful Navigating Crazy Moment:
An entitled Harvard Professor left her bag in the middle of the staircase that leads to our business, the print shop, and the bathrooms.
One of the angry copy guys went out to take a smoke break and flung her bag on to the floor, growling "What is wrong with people?"
Entitled Harvard Professor, coming out of the print shop asks "What's wrong with you?"
Angry Copy Guy says "Don't leave your bag in the middle of the fucken staircase. Someone's going to trip."
Entitled Harvard Professor: "Don't throw peoples' bags into the middle of the floor where they could still trip over it."
I do not stick my head out the door and say "Shut up. You're both assholes, and you're both wrong. Go about your shitty lives."
Guy At Bus Stop: "Are you the guy who does poetry at The Lizard Lounge?"
Me: "Not in a really long time, but, yes, I have been the guy who does poetry at The Lizard Lounge."
Random small talk.
GABS: "I'm a writer, too."
This never goes anywhere pleasant.
Me: "Oh, what d--" NEVER ASK THIS QUESTION "--o you write?"
GABS: "Do you know what slash is?"
I do. But it's more fun to ask, "The guitarist from Guns'N'Roses?"
GABS: "No, it's--"
Me: "I was kidding. Yes. I know what slash is."
GABS: "I write Dora The Explorer slash. I have a website."
Random Loiterer,Who Also Happens To Be Physically My Type: "Do you need to check my butt?"
RL: "My butt. Do you need to check it?"
He smacks the mannequin torso he's carrying with him.
Me: "Oh." "No."
RL: "You can give it a smack, too, if you'd like."
I had Tuesday through Saturday mostly off this week, thanks to an unfortunate subway shutdown on Wednesday. Apart from running errands, I have mostly stayed at the house working on comic related things.
Today, I went back to work where most of the customers were awesome, and the loiterers were few. I did make the mistake of allowing a couple to come in at 9:58 (we close at ten) because they seemed desperate for gift ideas, and I was happy to help them. However, they left at 10:40 without spending a penny.
If they buy any of the books I suggested online, I hope the delivery is delayed, and shows up ripped to shreds and covered in parakeet shit. And I hope the "favorite niece and nephew" are so disappointed that they ask their parents not to let Aunty and Uncle Timewaster show up for their birthday parties.
It was 11:30 before I finished enough work to leave the store, and the travel app said it was twenty minutes before the next bus. But, you know, sometimes, late at night especially, it lies.
I decided to walk down to the spot between the train and the bus platforms and wait. If I heard a "The Alewife train arrives in FIVE minutes." or "The Alewife train is NOW approaching.", I would go catch the train. Otherwise, I'd wait out the bus.
Well, there were no announcements. The train just sort of showed up and left with no audio announcements or visual announcements. At last they committed to fucking over their visually impaired, hearing impaired, and non-impaired customers equally. Viva the subway's consistency.
So I walked up to the bus platform, which was mostly full. The bus showed up precisely when the app said it would, and I got on.
The woman behind me paid in dimes and was having a frantic conversation with the driver that I couldn't hear, even though I was not wearing headphones. But she appeared to be trying to scam her way in with a Charlie Card that didn't have enough change and wanted the driver to know that she was a bad person for not just letting her on.
Of course she came to sit next to me. Of course. But before she sat down, she took out used paper napkins to put down on the seat.
I understand that some people are germaphobic and need to cover the seats of public transportation, but I assure you: that napkin was far nastier than any of the invisible creatures living on the plastic seat.
I made a face, and then turned to look out the window.
She then tried to make eye contact with me in the window.
I did not engage.
At the second stop a group of non-White people got on the bus. And if you, dear Facebook readers, had been on that bus (and you're so glad you weren't), I would have turned to you and said "Bet you twenty dollars the insane woman sitting on the dirty napkin next to me says something racist."
You, wisely, would not have taken that bet.
She didn't drop the N word. She didn't say anything Absolutely Horrible, she just ranted to herself (again, I was not engaging) about Some People. Making it pretty clear to me that Some People were not mousey white ladies in their fifties voluntarily plopping their butts down on marinara sauce covered napkins.
I didn't turn around and make a face. I didn't make a face into the window. I didn't loudly sigh. I thought about doing ALL Of these things. But I sat quietly, writing this Facebook post in my head. Then she sort of shouldered me, very lightly, and said "Do you believe Those People."
And that's when I was ready. Now was my time to...
"Nah, Ronda Rousey looks like a man, (censored). I mean, I'd stick my dick in it, but then I'd have to go to confession because that's fag right there. Total fag." said one of the people I was about to defend.
I clicked the Let Me Off This Fucken Bus button. I headed to the front of the bus, and I walked the rest of the way home.
I hope they ended up in a screaming match, and all their variously bigoted asses had to walk home to Montana or Saskatchewan. Somewhere far enough away that I never have to see them again.
After spending an hour mildly flirting and talking with someone about the art they practice and yours, the worst thing that can happen is that you give them your name as you leave the bar and they say "I know. We dated last year."