The Man On The Corner

I’m nice. Too nice.

I used to always be confused when they talk about girls “leading” someone on. Mostly that girl was just trying not to hurt the person’s feelings. She was trying to be nice and yet send signals that would let the other person down easy. Really, when you think about it, the girl was a subtle social signal guru. Perhaps too subtle in most cases.

Nice people put so much effort into not hurting someone else’s feelings, into not being completely rude. I’m that person and I have to say I’m finally at a mental state where I feel like I’m going to stop being subtle and just say, “Look. I’m not interested in [whatever]. Back off.” Unfortunately, my actions are still dormant in this regard and result in the all too common “I was like . . . but what I really said was . . .”

You may be more familiar with this syndrome that you realize. Have you ever told a story to a friend and been like, “. . . Can you believe she even said that to me? And I was like, ‘Excuse me, the customer is always right so you’d better get your manager in here fast or I’ll have your job for it.’ Yeah, that’s what I was like, but what I really said was, ‘Um, yes, I kind of see your point but they say the customer is always right, you know, and maybe I could just quickly talk to your manager about it, if that would be okay?’”

So, that’s where I am with TheManOnTheCorner. I’ve taken that first big step into mentally saying to myself, “Hey Joy, you know you are taking all these steps to avoid him, going out of YOUR way to do so, just so you don’t hurt his feelings. He’s the one who can’t or won’t take your subtle, pride salvaging hints to act normal. Just be blatantly rude so he will get the hint and stop leading him on into thinking that you are interested in being his friend.”

Now, nice person that I am, I’m afraid this must sound a bit cruel to you. But let me go back and explain the events leading up to this and I think you will agree that it all just needs to stop.

As you know, I’m here living in Ireland, my days free to do as I please while Chad is working. The street I live on is not a long one. When you come out of my apartment building, you can turn either right or left to head to the streets at either end that then lead you into Dublin’s city center. But, going right, around the construction work being done, past the DART* (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) Station, is much more convenient because you can then go either left on Grand Canal Street and head to the area grocery, pharmacy, convenience stores, etc. or right on Grand Canal and head into the city center for better shopping, post office, and sightseeing.

Basically, I always need to turn right onto Barrow Street coming out of my apartment and head down to Grand Canal Street. This means I have to pass the DART Station and this is where TheManOnTheCorner stands from 2pm until sometime after 6pm every weekday. I know this because pretty much every day, I give my self something to go do in the city so that I can get out and walk and see Dublin.

Walking around the city, of course, I noticed that every day I was passing by TheManOnTheCorner. Statistically speaking, we were going to have to make eye contact sooner or later. The first time I chose the faint smile to accompany it. The next time, I felt I had to move into the slight nod as well. And soon, it was time to graduate to the barely audible, “Hi.” You can see where this is going, I presume. We are into week 4 now, a full month of my walking past TheManOnTheCorner. Am I wrong to think that I was going to eventually be pulled into a conversation, however quick, with the guy?

I’ll admit that I was curious about him at first. Why was this old Irish guy standing on the corner every weekday with a smile on his face and his arm resting on the rubbish bin (not garbage can)? The fact that he was not there on weekends insinuated that he was doing some kind of work. Finally, one day, I paid close enough attention to notice that he was selling newspapers to the crowd of folks that were using the DART. At least he was legitimately doing a job and not a total freak just standing next to the same rubbish bin every day.

About week 3 is when minor conversing began, innocently enough. “Hello, how are you today, dear?” “Finethanks” (Faint smile, still moving). “You look so lovely today, dear.” “Ohthanks.Niceweathertoday.” (Never stop moving). “You’re looking beautiful as always. Can’t I run away with you?” “Myhusbandwon’tlikethattoomuch.” “Well, he’s a lucky man.” (Smile politely, once back is turned, eye roll ensues). “How are you doing and where do you go everyday?” – You see how the questions are getting longer each day. There is no way I’m going to be able to answer everything politely and keep moving. So, I did it. Looking back, I see that this was my first very obvious mistake. I stopped moving forward long enough to answer his questions. It had the trappings of “Rapport” written all over it. I see that now.

Now that I’ve stopped once, I most certainly have to stop every time, do I not? “Did I tell you what happened to me? My living room burned down. It’s a horrible thing to live in. Could I possibly stay with you?” (Dear Lord.) “Um, no, we don’t own the place we are living in and, uh, you know, my husband . . .” “You know I’m kidding. Ha ha.” (No, ManOnTheCorner, I don’t know you so how would I know if you are kidding?!?!) “Oh, of course.”

This is about the time I started to consider my options for walking on the other side of the street. Unfortunately, because of the construction going on, the sidewalk ends on that side and I’d have to cross back over in the exact spot where TheManOnTheCorner and his bin are. Staying on this new side isn’t doable because at that point I’m walking down the middle of the street dodging traffic. It would be way too obvious that I am avoiding TheManOnTheCorner. I mean, he’s just an old guy who is down on his luck and isn’t socially all there, but he’s just saying “Hi” really. Aren’t I being a little dramatic and haughty taughty walking on the other side of the street because of it?

“You’re looking beautiful today, dear.” (Get a new line.) “You know I try.” “Well, here, try this.” (Whoa, yogurt beverage from strange man. Weird.) “Oh no, thanks.” “Come on, we are giving away free samples to those buying a paper” “Okay, I’ll just take it with me. How much?” “Nothing for you, dear.” “No really, how much?” “No, no. It’s nothing, just try it.” “Thanks.”

Things are getting desperate. I start planning to leave the house well before 2pm so I don’t have to worry about an encounter then. The trickiest part is coming back in the evenings. If I walk one block farther down and 2 blocks over, I can come back around from the other side of the street and never have to pass him on my way back in the evening. But this, this is ridiculous! Why am I walking 3 blocks out of my way to avoid this guy who is being a total freak with that stupid smile on his face, just so I don’t hurt his feelings? Just walk by him and don’t stop. Be rude. Then he’ll get the hint. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m just going to be a B-I-T-C-H. Yup, that’s me.

“Hi, dear, you’re looking lovely. Did I tell you what happened to my living room?” “Oh, yes, you told me. Have they fixed it up yet?” “No not yet.” “That’s too bad. We’ll I’ve got to get going on my errands.” “Oh. I didn’t see you come back yesterday. You’re not avoiding me are you?” (Yes.) “Uh. No, I just had errands on the other side. Did a circle, you know.” “We should get a pint sometime, deary, just you and me.”

Okay then, Plan B it is. Walk one extra block down and 2 over and then I can come down the street from the other side and avoid him altogether. And hey, I’ll be getting good exercise and I’ll be exploring a new part of the city. This route was getting boring anyway.

*Whenever I say “DART”, Chad repeats, “If Dublin were Fublin, the DART would be the FART.” He thinks it’s so funny. Hardee, Har, Har.

13 Responses to “The Man On The Corner”

  1. Mie VidEre Says:

    Is this the old DART?

  2. 523home Says:

    Just say, “I’m on my way to the clinic to get rid of this nagging syphilis…” That ought to cool him down. Great story though!

  3. JoyLuck Says:

    Yeah. Old and loud. Maybe I’ll try telling TheManOnTheCorner to pull my finger next time I walk by him and the DART. If so, I’ll update y’all under the “Why Cut the Cheese” post – HA!

  4. Mie VidEre Says:

    Now, Now. Let’s be nice.

  5. maria_c Says:

    …love the story Joy! Reminds me of an encounter I had one night in Rome that started with “I’ll show you the most beautiful part of Rome” and ended with “I will not touch you, only myself”. Funny how we get ourselves into these situations…

  6. jackt Says:

    Deleted comments above were from me while I was changing my old blogger nick to something Joy might recognize and also lerning to spell.

    At any rate:

    Try sticking some chocolate on your nose. Works for me.

    Strange coincidence since I was just reading the blog of an old Irish guy who was trying to make some Yank visitor feel good about herself.

  7. JoyLuck Says:

    Shmah – Your story sounds like a story Gwen has that starts at China Harbor with “Would you like to dance” and ended with “Would you like to come home with me? I promise I won’t touch you.

    Jack! You’re too funny. Believe me, I would try the chocolate thing, but based on previous experience, the guy will probably still want to talk and talk and talk and he won’t even mention that he’s just now noticing my birthmark! Oh, and I ain’t no yank, I’m a Southern Bell. :>

  8. Mie VidEre Says:

    Ne feceris ut rideam!

    Certe,joi, sentio nos in meridianus non iam adesse.

  9. JoyLuck Says:

    Certainly, Mie Videre, you can understand that most of us may not understand Latin easily (it’s been 10+ years since I studied it myself) and, I fear, it comes across as a bit presumptuous on your part to assume that I and others who read my blog would find so much value in your comments as to spend our valuable time translating them. Although, after getting to know you via your comments, I and others may determine that your comments are, in fact, a worthy investment of our time, perhaps you would consider corresponding in English on my blogs in the future? Let me end by saying, that I do appreciate you taking your valuable time to make the comments in the first place. Hope you’ve been enjoying what you’ve been reading (although I’m not quite sure that you have.)

  10. Mie VidEre Says:

    There is no language like no language. Won’t waste YOUR (or others) valuable time in the future.

    Vah! Denuone latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur.

    Die dulci freure!

    (Of course, you could just ignore it…)

  11. JoyLuck Says:

    So much for my being nice, I guess.

  12. Sylvana Says:

    This ManOnTheCorner seems a lot like this Irish guy I ran into in Scotland. He was definitely CREEPY! And of course I was all alone at this dinky little bus stop and the dinky little town I was in was pretty much deserted. It is especially difficult to get rid of a creepy guy in that situation.

  13. JoyLuck Says:

    Yes! Especially by yourself. A similar situation happened to me and a friend in Scottland and even with two of us to support each other, he was very difficult to get rid of.

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