Thursday, July 11, 2002

So, to continue about the weirdness that was yesterday.

Where was I now? Oh yeah, the stalker. A mild version of one, but a little on the creepy side. I was shelving books in the Current Affairs section, when a guy who looked about late twenties, early thirties said hello to me as if he knew me. The Current Affairs section is right by the magazine section, and he was on one of the benches reading a magazine. There have been several times when customers come up to me and are familiar with me when I don't recognize them, so I said hello back with the same familiarity, then realized I didn't think that I'd seen the guy before. At first, I thought it was Josh the music manager, since I looked at him quickly, but realized it wasn't. I was a little annoyed, but didn't show it since it wasn't the guy's fault that I mistook him for a coworker. He asked me questions, like how long I'd worked at the store and if I liked my job, and somehow, we got into a conversation about working for dotcoms, since he was a computer programmer. As it progressed, I realized he was chatting me up and looked for a way out of it. Not to mention, he had those blue contacts that made his eyes look a little on the freaky side, since he had brown eyes underneath. The contacts made his eyes to appear a muddy, murky brown-blue, and made his irises too large. Every time we made eye contact, it was a bit weird to look at. Luckily, a misplaced book about the Islamic Holy War was my ticket out. It belonged on an end display, and I walked to put it away, then didn't return to the shelves.

About twenty minutes later, I was putting away books upstairs in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section, and he sauntered into the aisle where I was working, very obviously trying to get me to notice him. I quickly walked away to a reading section where there are chairs and tables, and began collecting books that had been left behind by customers. He followed me there, and I darted into the New Age section. Once again, there he was, and his persistence was not only annoying me, but was starting to frighten me a little. I noticed a jump in my heart rate and shallower breathing.

At the same time, I felt bad since I had engaged in friendly conversation with him, but I felt that he was a little too familiar and persistent with me. Also, that he had taken that friendly conversation as something it wasn't. Because I am an intensely private person, (yep, even though I keep this blog) his actions to me felt invasive. Almost suffocating. I was walking away from him every time he came within ten feet from me, so why couldn't he fucking take the clue?

The cat and mouse game continued for awhile, then I had a dinner break which took me out of view for half an hour. When I returned, I didn't see my captivated admirer for an hour and thought he had gotten the message.

That was, until I was straightening some shelves and he came up behind me. Startled the hell out of me and at that point I was angry. Again though, there is that fine line between being professionally courteous and being like the salesperson in that Saturn commercial who says to customer, "Ya know, you're standing like an inch from my face and it's really creeping me out."

I can't remember what we talked about, as I was more concerned about getting away from him. I succeeded, and every now and then I'd see him walking by trying to catch my eye. About half an hour to close time, he again crept up behind me in the Reference section to tell me that he was going to take off. I had no idea why he was telling me that as I thought I'd made it very clear that I wasn't interested.

I'll stop this story now to give a message to you guys out there:
1. Do NOT sneak up behind women who you do not know. It's creepy, period.
2. Do not follow them if they show they are not interested by walking away from you. Creepy again.
3. Do not invade their space.
4. Do not hang out at their place of work for four hours. Especially if #2 applies to you. Creepy, and wholly desperate.

Now that I've gotten that out, allow me to continue.

I remarked that he'd sure been here a long time, and he said he'd gone out to dinner, (probably the same time as my break) then had come back to read awhile, (while he wasn't stalking me around the store.) I told him to enjoy his books that he was going to buy, and once again, walked away from him. With my back to him, he asked me if I wanted to have coffee sometime. I was around the book shelf by that time and just came out with it.

"I can't," I said giving no reason why, "I'm sorry." I could see that he was disappointed as he walked toward me and for once avoided my eyes. "I can always be found here," I said to try to soften the blow a little, and told him to take care.

That's another thing I like about wisdom. I don't have to give a reason why I can't go out with someone. I respect myself enough to not have to justify the fact that I just don't want to go out with a person. Especially someone who has frightened me. So, "I can't, I'm sorry," is all the explanation they get.

I wasn't angry at him for being interested in me and pursuing it. I was angry at the way he did it and that after several signals that I wasn't interested, that he continued to approach me without consideration of how that might feel to me. I know the movies tell us that the guy eventually gets the girl, but in real life people are much more than two dimensional characters. We are not simply reeled in like a fish after a fisherman throws so many lines. We are complicated beings and require a little more care than that. For one, respect the person whom you are pursuing in that they may not be exactly the neat little picture that you are seeing. Just because you have made someone your mission, do not forget that it is a person you are pursuing, not a fantasy. People are very different, and if you are truly generous, you will try to learn and then respect their comfort levels. In my case, I needed this guy to stop following me around, but all he saw was the pursuit.

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