Public transit. Those two words evoke many feelings in people: environmentalism, claustrophobia, convenience, or frustration to name a mere few. For me, the extremely late drivers license bloomer, they’ve been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I navigate the subways with ease (except the west end, there be dragons), know how to time my transfers (apps are key), and where the prime seats are (if I told you, you’d be sitting in them when I got on the bus). One thing I haven’t mastered however, is the art of looking unapproachable.
Half the time, it’s my own fault. I people watch and smile. When I get asked for the time or if they could sit beside me, I respond politely. I also don’t really know how to give off the “don’t talk to me signals” or alter my high pitched squak into a threatening growl. It gives the crazy, lonely, drunk, or oddly sociable people a wide open attack.
One time, an old grandmother decided to talk my ear off in Chinatown. I not only had a hard time understanding her accent, but the friend I was with was so good at disengaging the conversation that I didn’t know how I was still talking to this lady! She proceeded to give us life and career advice the next 20 minutes. Another time while I was in London, England a dude who started up a conversation even offered to solicit me at the beginning. I don’t know if I should be flattered or disgusted. (It was the latter, come on dude).
But a few weeks ago, my awkwardness got me into another yeesh situation. I was out with my friends downtown but not really feeling the whole social/drinking thing that night. I said adios early and hopped on the subway to trek it back east. I just wanted to listen to my music, zone out and not have to do the friendly thing. Apparently I was not giving off that vibe.
A dude giving off major Bruno Mars vibes (not in a good way but in a fedora way) shuffles over to me. He’s young, but seems pretty harmless. He taps me on the shoulder to strike up a conversation. I take my headphones out, inwardly sigh and turn to him.
Bruno then proceeds to tell me how he’s in university, drives a motorcycle and is a cool musician (he actually described himself as cool). I sense the fact he’s trying to pick me up so I mention that even though I look 18, I’m actually 10 years older. Normally that deters the youngins. No way dude, I think Bruno is having some Mrs Robinson fantasies.
I’m not a piece of meat, Bruno!
So I try a different approach, I say I’m heading home to my “boyfriends” house. This normally really gets dudes off your tail. Bruno doesn’t skip a beat (what is his end game?!) and keeps chatting.
He asks me where I’m headed and I tell him I’m transferring at the next station (which I’m not). Conveniently, he is as well. Man, I thought I would escape this conversation that way. He tells me all about how he lives in the east and whatnot. Once we transfer onto that subway, I lie and say I have to get off in a few more stops and go north, thinking I can shake him off my trail and then double back. This is a lot of strategy at 1am.
When I tell him I’m transferring again, his story matches mine. What the what?! This kid is like a conversation leech! I couldn’t believe all my plans had backfired and should probably resign myself to my fate of being chopped up and put into jars in his fridge.
Finally, I reach my “stop” and quickly excuse myself before any exchange of numbers or Facebook details could occur. Sidenote: one time I was in a similar situation at a library where I ended up telling a guy I didn’t have a phone number because I didn’t have a phone. I ended up never seeing Bruno Mars Motorcycle Cool Dude again.
Looking back, maybe I should take this all as a super compliment. This guy was clearly a friendly soul just wanting a shared experience on the subway. Why was I so bitchy about it? I think it all comes down to timing, gentlemen. Never, try to pick up at girl at last call on the subway. If she’s alone it is because: a). She’d tired and just wants to get home b). She got turned down and just wants to get home c). She wants to listen to her music, maybe eat a burrito and get HOME. Pick up at the bar, not whole holding onto one.