I got up today after five hours of sleep to go have coffee with my sister. It was something that I enjoyed doing on my days off when I worked the day shift. Since I have been on night shift, I have been unable to go. I got dressed quickly and after seeing my puffy, sleepy face in the mirror I put on a hat and the minimum eyeliner. Leggings, leg warmers, dress, sweater, hoodie, riding boots and mid-length trench coat: black, some gray. That would have to be enough. We met at her work and went to the coffee shop. We talked about our weekends. How my nephew fit twenty pairs of underwear on his head and I prevented a minor disaster by spotting a clogged line upon the startup of dehulling system A. Fun was had by all.
I have two nephews with birthdays within the next week, so I decided to get my shopping out of the way. Southdale mall was the closest and I had a coupon for the lotion place. I thought I’d pick up some candles as a first step towards Yule shopping. I did that and spent probably more than I intended on clothes for a two-year-old, but they were so DAMN CUTE! How could I not? I went to a map kiosk to see if there were any other stores that might have something suitable for ten-year-old. I was browsing the list of stores when a young man came up. I’d say he was perhaps very early twenties at the most, maybe late teens. He looked astoundingly average. Not varsity team jock, but a periphery member. There was maybe a shred of marching band to him.
He came up and very quietly (and nervously?) said “Hi.”
Not wanting to appear rude or stuck up, I said, “Hi.” At the same time my heart is racing, because I’m expecting him to ask if I’d like to answer a few questions on a survey of internet service providers and I cringe.
He says still quietly, “How’s it going?”
“Good.” I say waiting for the ax to drop. I look away at the list of stores and pretend I’m concentrating, really looking for something even though I know none of these stores are going to be useful. Perhaps Games by James.
“Okay,” he says surprised, confused even, but still quiet, as if I gave him the finger or the look of death and he didn’t want to upset me further. “Bye then.” And he walks away just like that.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
I’m sorry, but if you were expecting a conversation then you need to be prepared with a follow up question. Despite being a Gemini, I am not going to carry the conversation. Was that some desperate highschool attempt at hitting on random women? Was it your introverted goal to improve yourself by trying to talk to random people at the mall? I’m left standing there without any answers. Does he even know how old I am? I make my way back to the entrance I park by and I see him. He’s still walking aimlessly without shopping bags. It just gives me the willies. I don’t want him to see me again. I go downstairs and duck inside the dollar store for a gift bag and tissue paper. I half expect to see on the news later “Another stabbing rampage at Minnesota mall.”
My mind is racing with what I should have said. What I felt like shouting at him. If he was an introvert trying to get out there, then I had some advice. If he was trying to hit on me then I ALSO had some advice, albeit more berating. I’m not the typical woman that’s going to be flattered with stars in her eyes. I run my life. I don’t depend on anyone. I have pretty much become the man I needed to marry. I’m cold, vindictive. My heart is a million pieces tossed in the wind. If you want to come to the table and deal then for god sake’s SPEAK UP so I can hear you. Take your idle hands out of your pockets, make eye contact. I’m an introvert and I’ve had to learn all these things so I didn’t float through life like a ghost. It’s when you’re confident enough to not need noticing, that people will notice you. It’s about acting. You have to play a role. It’s not timid, befuddled Laura that speaks. Loll says it, “Hello! How are you doing today? Are you finding everything okay?” I pour on at least two pounds of sugar to cover the venom and I force a better smile than all my school photos combined. It’s why I chime “Good Morning!” every weekday after a twelve-hour night shift for the benefit of the old timers just punching in. Just so they never know how much a night shift ticks off a woman working in a man’s world.
So take my advice young man. No matter what your selling or offering in life whether it’s fiber optic cable service or a friendly chat. Be prepared, be confident, speak up and always be polite.