Sunday, September 12, 2004

She never knew a stranger

I think it's safe to say that you can't use that turn of phrase in reference to me. I had a run-in today that's left me wondering if I'm too suspicious of people, or just naturally cautious...

I live in a little complex of 3 identical 2-story, 6-unit brick buildings. The front door of my building faces the front door of the building east of mine--the same building that has the laundry room for the whole complex in it. So, I'm puttering back and forth doing laundry, and about 1/2 way through the afternoon one of the tenants of the other building comes out and sits on the stoop. I've seen him before, and know him particularly as the guy who is fond of putting his stereo speakers in his window facing out, and treating us all to 70s hard rock (Black Sabbath, etc) for hours at a time. I passed him on my way into his building, switched some laundry, and came back out. As I did so, he says, "Young lady...young lady, I want to talk to you. I have some things to say and I'm going to talk to you." Did I mention yet that this man's apartment routinely gives off the odor of marijuana, that he had a large brimming bottle of beer next to him, and that his face was deeply florid? I was, how do you say, disinclined to acquiesce to his request. I said, very calmly, very evenly, "No, I'm going back inside." He replies, "No, no, just sit down over there, go ahead, I'm going to talk." Me, firmly: "No. I'm going back inside." Which I then turned and did. Awhile later when I went to return the laundry key to the landlord's building, who should be occupying their stoop but the same man. I went in and returned the key and again on the way out he tried to stop me, with his "Young lady? YOUNG LADY!" schtick. This time I ignored him and walked away.

Now here's my conundrum--was that rude? I know people who might have stopped that first time, and sat and talked with the guy. I didn't. I didn't want to--I had things to do, didn't want to get drawn into an inextricable conversation with someone who was most likely under the influence of something, and quite frankly he made me very uncomfortable. But should he have? Was the fact that he wanted to talk enough reason to find him suspicious? I genuinely wonder. I hate feeling like I have been rude to someone, especially unintentionally. As much smack as I talk, I'm actually a very non-confrontational person and will diffuse a situation if at all humanly possible. BUT, as a woman living alone I'm also hyper-alert about my safety. Sometimes though I wonder if somewhere along the line that hasn't crossed over into being too quick to assume the worst about people.

Any opinions?


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