|>>|| No. 383946
I seem to handle awkward people fairly well, having dealt with them from a very early age. This includes the drunk, high, those with mental conditions or any combination of the above.
I think you just have to remember that most are lonely in the extreme.* Maybe they've gotten used to the idea of being threatening and embrace that to some degree, or are quite bitter about things, but why else would you be hassling strangers if not for a bit of human contact, no matter how unpleasant or weird? I particularly think they go for younger and educated looking types as they're the most sensitive to them. But I don't think the solution to this is just to harden, I make an effort to engage with them in whatever way I can. A few highlights:
- Bus station, a middle-aged man who is clearly drunk but holding himself in a passable way asks me for a cigarette, I tell him I don't have any and he then asks in a really threatening tone, "why?". He clearly wanted me to panic, or back off, or snap back at him with something sarcastic, but I did my best to calmly tell him I don't smoke. I can't remember why but I distinctly remember putting my hand on his shoulder, it sounds hilariously patronising or Corrigan-y, but I wanted to show that I wasn't afraid of physical contact or confrontation. It must have worked as he did the same, and we ended up talking about quitting smoking and his ex. Also, he didn't lamp me.
- An older woman, black, extremely long hair tied back, asks me to help her with her bags to a taxi rank outside the bus station. I tell her I'm only going so far as my bus bay, but being a good Samaritan offer to take it out and walk back to my bay. She refuses, but I've already picked up her things. When we get to my bay, I swear, she grabs the first male she sees and makes the exact plea. There was a very strange moment during the bag exchange where I felt used for about forty feet of ground coverage, but it is quite funny in retrospect.
- Breaking up a fight outside a Wetherspoons that started over an argument about who is currently president of the United States. This was in 2009 - 10, with Obama recently being elected. I missed the entire first half of their conversation, but some person was adamant that Bush Jr. was still in office and proceeded to swing at some poor bastard who corrected him. Incidentally, if you want to overcome your fear of strange people on various substances, a Swansea Wetherspoons is an ideal training ground.
- A man on a bus who spent the first quarter of my journey loudly announcing his theories of everything, and then extending his deepest sympathies with me as he believed I would likely be young enough to see the start of World War 3. When I asked him why, he just said "'cos that's the way things are going, innit?". I remember saying, "well, I hope not", and then as casually as I could, getting up and moving to another seat.
- A woman who is in her 60s, both drunk and high, having admitted to getting utterly blitzed at her granddaughters 18th birthday party, has been thrown out of a cab as I'm walking home. Well, I didn't know this until I started speaking to her, because I actually found her laying down next to a car. In the middle of a road. I suppose you can't just leave someone that way. I actually had to lift the old lass and have her hold my arm as we walked, and I quickly discovered that I had to support her carefully as she fell flat on her back the moment I let go. She's grateful but makes one curious comment along the lines of "maybe I should trust strangers, but who'd want to rape an old bird like me anyway, eh?". She ends up drunkenly guiding me the wrong way around my block until I figure out where she actually lives from drunken clues and drop her off inside her flat. It took what must have been seven solid minutes of key fumbling. She offered me a coffee. I politely refused.
My writing isn't that great tonight, but I hope this post is worth something.
* I'm obviously not talking about panhandlers, those hard up for cash or those out to cause trouble with their friends or whatever, just the individuals who want to grab your attention or to talk to you at all costs.