Monday, June 9, 2008

Mom said never talk to strangers

Words to live by... Words most of us are taught at a very young age... Never talk to strangers! Mom and dad obviously had a good reason for teaching this to us... just like they had a good reason for teaching us how to walk, talk and pee standing up. It's stuff that becomes useful later on in life... like when we're on the T. As far as I'm aware, there's an unwritten rule stemming from what our parents taught us. It states: Don't talk to strangers ON THE T.

Having commuted by T for a few years, I've not only observed this to be true, but I also choose to abide by it. Rule of thumb, if you're nervous about it, headphones in definitely means no one bothers you.

On a blisteringly hot day, after standing out in the beating sun for 10 minutes, or standing in a steamy underground subway station with no a/c, setting foot on the train feels like you've entered some sort of Mecca (not the one in Saudi Arabia, as I imagine it's fiercely hot there). The cool air conditioning hitting your face, you forget the pain of standing and sweating that was with you just minutes before.

Apparently that's enough for people to forget about rules they were raised on.
I encountered 3 - yes, 3 people who decided to engage total strangers in conversation.
One - across from me, as i rummaged through my bag, searching for my Ipod, very excitedly exclaimed something about hand lotion... You have hand lotion? My hands dry...
Wait, seriously?
Where you from, where you work? how you like here?
In case you couldn't guess, this guy was the stereotypical friendly Asian man.
A retired construction worker/vietnam vet sitting two seats from me joined the conversation...
I know this because he offered it up freely.

Fast forward to the ride home - creepy 40ish man hitting on a couple of young girls, possibly underage (not that it should matter since he shouldn't be talking in the first place). He complimented them so much, I think it scared them off the train. He proceeded to bother the guy with a Rubik cube and then an older woman who looks like she had consumed one too many mint juleps. He hit on her and eventually they were talking politics... I can barely talk politics with people I like without wanting to kill them. I couldn't imagine doing it with strangers. Someone would wind up dead. The entire time I'm remembering what my mother once taught me. It got to the point where I almost had to start gasping for air. Lucky for me, my stop came just in time. I rushed to the exit without saying a word.
I'm home, safe and sound. But I know, somewhere out there, there are people talking to strangers.

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