Weird People Radar: I Can Haz It?

 I always, always get the weird people. Always.

 Once, it was the scrawny and scruffy old man who insisted on telling me about

  • His giant collection of trains
  • His rare old records
  • His girlfriend whom he divorced to get together with—he seemed intent on emphasizing that she was 20 years older than him, and they had True Love.
  • Other stuff I have blocked from my memory

 Oh, and did I mention that he had spent the night sleeping under a tarp—I mean, laying on the sidewalk, with a tarp over his head—while waiting in line to go to this booksale?

 The point is that if I hadn’t allowed the conversation to start, I wouldn’t have had to stand there for half an hour, stupidly nodding and ‘hmming’ with great interest. The weird people always zero in on the clueless like me. The other incident was a young man in a Barnes and Noble bookstore.

 Picture me: I am peacefully perusing a stack of knitting books. I am very obviously reading. A nervous looking young man, probably in his twenties, drops himself into the fat leather chair next to mine.

 He’s not reading.

 He’s nervously twining his hands together, and sighing, and leaning back in his chair. Somewhere, a warning in my head sounded, but I didn’t want to surrender my chair just to avoid him. Bad idea. In the course of the next 15 minutes, I am told

  • He lost his job that day. Oh, wait, I think he quit his job that day. Can’t remember
  • He wants to travel somewhere
  • The meaning of the astrological signs, and also inquiring as to what MY sign is, and whether or not I buy into non-scientific bull crap believe in them. He kindly explained what my signs meant even though to be entirely accurate, he needed to know more about my house or something. I think I’m Ravenclaw—or is that something else?

 Finally, mercifully, it was time to go anyway, so I had a good excuse to slip away, smiling weakly in his direction.

 But here’s the real kicker of a story. Imagine me in the library, finding a spot to park my laptop, and do some surfing. Then, imagine that there’s an older lady sitting at one of the tables, busily knitting what looks like a baby sweater. Hurrah, I think, what a find!

 Not really. My first warning came when she immeaditely told me that

  • She had a sweater in the car, for sale. For sale, she repeated, for just $15 dollars! A handknit sweater!

 For the next 10 minutes, I was held captive as she repeatedly emphasised how this person who originally commisioned the sweater backed out of it. I connected to the ‘net, and checked my email, and she continued to talk, oblivious to my “BE QUIET AND LEAVE ME ALONE” vibes that I was desperately trying to emit.

 All the while, she knit on the blue thing. She stopped only to retrieve the wondrous $15 sweater from her car. I felt trapped. I had $42 in my bag, and I think she was attempting to levitate the cash from my pocket, through guilt or pressure or what I have no idea.

 Now imagine that I’m sitting in that library.

 Right now.

 Desperately trying to avoid catching her eye once more.

Just $15!

I think that I need to invest in a weird people radar instead.


April 28, 2008. Tags: , . Snark Editorial.


  1. Luciana replied:

    Dude, I’m right there with you!

  2. knitasaur replied:

    I totally started commenting, then it got too big. Found here. 😀 Needless to say, I’m with ya on that.

  3. rainin9 replied:

    Haha, I don’t get that because I look too fierce and intimidating ^^
    Maybe you can get a scary mask. ;p

  4. Dava replied:

    It’s unfortunate, but if you want to be a writer, you need these people. Free material.

    Or, you could just say, “excuse me, I have to go home and neuter my cat.” With a gleam in your eye.

    Just a suggestion.

  5. jinniver replied:

    I’m trying desperately to come up with a catch-all way to get out of those situations in case your weird people magnet activates again today, but to no avail. I’ve found that the most effective means is to tailor my comment to each person. For example, when we lived out in California, I was once trapped by two Jehovah Witnesses. They’d come to the door, and before I realized what a mistake it would be, I’d stepped outside and shut the door behind me (I have 2 cats, so I can’t stand inside and leave the door open). Every time I made a move toward the door they’d start talking more frantically, and I didn’t want to interrupt.

    I’d tried to politely make it clear that I was perfectly comfortable in my personal relationship with my deity, and that said relationship (and deity) was none of their business. Finally, I’d had enough, and I snapped. “I’m really sorry,” I told them, “but I have to get going. My Wiccan support group is going to be here in less than an hour, and I haven’t finished preparing the chicken for the animal sacrifice.”

    They didn’t run, but their stiff legged power walk made it clear that they wanted to.

    (Disclaimer: I’m not a Wiccan, but I do know enough about them that I know they wouldn’t ever consider animal sacrifice. But it was clear to me that the prejudices held by these two individuals would make the lie believable and horrific enough to chase them away. No disrespect intended to Wiccans. 🙂 )

  6. Magatha replied:

    So you provide free psychotherapy too? (That’s what I call the time I spend listening to everyone I meet, free therapy.)
    Considering that therapy costs an average of $175. per hour nowdays, you are providing a valuable public service. Just think of the havoc that they could create in the lives of all around them without the pressure valve release of people like you and me.

    The alternative is worse. You’d have to be a cold ass jerk and give out “touch me not” vibes to avoid these situations.
    Or perhaps beam out evil vibes every living minute. Who can live like that? Not me.

  7. Susan replied:

    That happens to me, too. It’s a gift, or a curse, maybe. My husband says I have a sign on me somewhere but we can’t see it. And the older I get, the more weird people I meet.

  8. Chelsea replied:

    OMG, that’s sooo sad, yet kinda funny. At my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary party, I wanted to talk to my uncle. I walked up just as two older ladies were walking up to him. I asked him my question, he dumped me…and I was stuck talking to these old ladies that asked me the stupidest questions in the whole wide world (most of which I promptly forgot). After being hung-up with them for…oh…say…20 minutes, I detached myself, saying that I needed to cut more cake (I made their cake, 4 tiers!), although there were a good 10 more pieces on the table. Soo, where was I going with this…oh yeah! I walked back over to my uncle, and he THANKED me for getting those ladies off of him! He actually THANKED me. I was appaled that he would do something like that (actually, I’m not surpirsed).
    So, you’re not the only one.

    Have fun!
    p.s. how did it all turn out??

  9. kaet replied:

    That used to happen to me in my first job, in an old-fashioned cafe where we were supposed to chat to the customers. But not at the expense of actually doing our work, of course. Normally there’d be a brief exchange while you cleared their table, and more if it was a slow time of day.

    There was this one lady, though, that literally did not pause for breath. She must have been able to do circular breathing, because I couldn’t even fit in a “Sorry” so I could walk away. In the end my manager came up, took in what was happening and pulled me away by the arm!

  10. So, a random response « Designs by Dianna replied:

    […] April 28, 2008 by Alarid First off: Go read the lumpy sweater post titled “Weird People Radar: I can haz it?” […]

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