In public, strangers, men and women alike, are overly familiar with me. Enough so that I sometimes ask myself if I really do know them after all: Am I living my own version of the film Memento?? My memory is gone but I’m the last one to know?
People march right up to me, they act like they know me, they just start talking, they interfere, they offer unsolicited advice, they presume, they get in my space, they make personal comments, and they pay little or no attention to how I’m reacting. Ruling out times when there’s actually something wrong with the person, I’m referencing behavior that is more than casual friendliness. Friendly is fine. I’m friendly! I know the difference. This week alone I had three Close Encounters of the Overly Familiar Kind.
In a store, an older woman who was on her way out, swerved and made a beeline for me where I stood looking at the store circular. She parked herself right next to me to, I’m guessing, look at the circular in my hand. Now, there was a big stack of them sitting right by the door and she was done shopping. I answered her when she spoke – and I took a good look to make sure I didn’t know her, which I absolutely didn’t – but I was perplexed. Also, she had kind of pinned me in, which ya just don’t do, so that with the stack of baskets to my immediate right and her to my immediate left, I was oddly stuck. I didn’t want to be rude, so when I could, I simply took a step forward to create space between us. But that didn’t work, because somehow before she left, she moved again so that her bosom actually touched me. Uh, if your boobs are making contact with me and we are not engaged in a friendly hug because I know you, you are standing too close!
In a thrift store, I was looking at clothes and had several items in my hand. One of the workers passing by suddenly reached to take them out of my hand. Only after the thwarted attempt did she say she’d keep them “at the front” so I’d have both hands free to shop. I looked at her and with some vigor said, no, I was going to try them on (which you are allowed to do, I am just saying). The woman didn’t apologize or say, “oh, okay” or any such thing. After that interaction, I remembered that this store has had trouble with occasional theft so I wondered if the “offer” to hold clothes was actually motivated to prevent thievery. Don’t know, doesn’t matter; ya don’t try to take things from strangers’ hands, especially not those belonging to customers.
At the grocery store, not only did the cashier volunteer he “heard change” in my wallet when it was time to pay for my purchases, he reached across the belt to try to take cash out of my hand. I promise you, I don’t ever dilly-dally around in a store, holding up the line and being a pain in the ass. My stuff is tidily on the belt, and if I’ve got coupons, they are in my hand, as is my wallet and cash or debit card. His impatience or presumption seemed to be more a matter of poor social skills which I might overlook but for the accompanying smugness in this fellow. I did not let him take my money, which I was counting, out of my hand. What I wanted to say was: “What the hell? If I was a 6′ tall, 200-plus pound guy, would you try to take money out of my hand?!”