Why I Don’t Talk To Strangers

I don’t know what it is about me that draws women near, and for the wrong reasons.  They think I can save them.  This is not to say I’m a ladies’ man–don’t misunderstand me.  It’s just that, I don’t know, I guess in my efforts to appear open and friendly, they–women–think they can confide in me.  They tell me things I probably shouldn’t hear.  I do not mean to say I pose a threat (I have no interest in the information they reveal).  I don’t even know what to do with most of what I listen to.  I’m no therapist.  I’m hardly a good friend to those who claim to know me.  And yet I keep attracting them,  over and over, at any time of the day.  They see me in a quiet corner or seated in an unobtrusive couch and confuse it for a welcoming gesture.  I don’t mean to convey that I wish not to be bothered, but I’m not exactly spreading my arms out either.

Take, for instance, this girl I met last week.  She spotted me on my lunch hour out in a communal park, savoring the last bits of my peanut butter sandwich.  I guess she noticed the label on my laptop case because she asked me if I worked for Ms. Kajoshi.  When I nodded that I did, she took that to mean that I was inviting her to sit with me, and proceeded to ask a series of questions regarding the job environment and my boss’ personality.  Was she a hard person?  Was the job tough?  Was it difficult to move ahead?  I didn’t know how to answer, so I just sort of shook my head from side to side and kept eating.  Then her face contorted into this terrified expression that reminded me at once of the answer to the question which I posed to you at the beginning of this pondering:  What draws these women to me?  What makes them trust me?  No, no, I’ve got it wrong.  That’s not what her face made me think of when I stopped chewing long enough to really look at her.  The question I’d been striving to answer is:  Why do I listen?  Why do I stop and listen when I’ve got so many problems of my own?  Is it because I think I can actually help?  …or am I just lonely.

Well, it turns out her name is Erica and she’s just fled from an abusive relationship with two young children in tow.  She’s sought asylum in this big city with little money and limited opportunities to get ahead.  Very plainly she was communicating to me that she desperately needed the job, maybe even more than I did, or thought I did.  Suddenly I had a whole new set of problems to consider.  Where would Erica and her children sleep that night?  Where were they sleeping now?  She did mention staying in a shelter for the time being.  What did they have to eat?  They couldn’t have faired much better than what I was having at that moment.  I looked down at my sandwich and then back into Erica’s deep, beautiful, sea-green eyes.

“Are you hungry?”  She shook her head hurriedly and then cast a downward glance so pregnant with intent that made me immediately regret ever opening my mouth.  “No, thank you,” she said.  “I’m sorry, I’m bothering you.”

She stood up and then I stood up, not knowing if I was truly prepared to follow this through, no matter where it took me.  I’m not even sure if I remembered I had to be back at my desk in fifteen minutes.  She made a dismissive gesture with her hand which seemed to mean “don’t get involved”.  But of course it was too late


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