2018 to 2022: You seemed to have confused me with someone else, Toronto CA
Shortly after I began drafting the Facebook series Satisfying Your Curiosity, I wanted to include these situations but thought the write-up in this type of post might be too lengthy and may be better suited to a full blog post.
So here it is. It started around, or I started to notice it in, 2018. Warning, this is a long post.
After testing out my wide-angle lens at Lakeshore Park, I jumped on the swings to cool off. I was enjoying myself since there was no one else around, but then the swing beside me began moving, so I looked to see who it was and found a little girl staring at me with a blank grin. I was so freaked out, I jumped off the swing, grabbed my bag and left the park.
I wasn’t about to initiate a dialogue with a kid since I’ve witnessed people being accused of "inappropriate interaction” with someone’s child. I’m not taking the bait.
I don’t know how to describe the look. I can only compare it to the expression I’ve seen before and know it is not the same: It’s not the glare of the perpetually angry that seems to be everywhere. It’s not a greeting smile when you are seeing a friend.
I was in the library and got up to check the shelves for a book on a topic I was researching (this is during the day with lots of people around, not a desolate night, like in the movies).
Then this young guy, who is always in the library at the same time as me and is always sitting next or close to me, started clearing his throat. So I looked over and saw him turning in my direction, looking at me, while putting candy/gum in this mouth.
I ignored him and figured he’s bored and wanted attention, since he never does any reading or any other “library related work”, just sits there or sleep. Besides, I don’t speak whatever language he was attempting to communicate in.
During one evening on my way home, I stopped into a coffee shop to do some reading in a quiet and empty spot. There was me, the staff and one other girl on the other side of the cafe who was also reading.
After a bit, a man came and stood beside where I was sitting, scratching what I assumed to be a lottery ticket. I only noticed him because the counter was shaking from his actions.
I looked at him, then looked around the room to see the shop still empty with wonderment at why he’s standing here (vigorously scratching without saying a word) and not standing anywhere else in the cafe.
The COVID19 restrictions came with curfew requirements for some, masks requirements, social (meant to be physical) distancing and orders to stay home.
Filled with a frenzy of people losing their minds in grocery stores: One lady was screaming “don’t listen to Trudeau, the shelves are empty” as soon as she entered the store without considering all the shelves were fully stocked. I guess she was just mindlessly repeating what she heard on TV and not taking into account what she was actually seeing.
Anyway, the stupidness continued in a different form. One day I was in the laundry room, well doing laundry, then came a teenage boy supposedly to also do his laundry.
By now, I’ve become more alert to people around me so I can ensure physical distancing is maintained. Because of this hypervigilance, I saw this boy looking at me (he was not wearing a mask) while he silently and slowly touches the machine door then moved over to touching his laundry basket.
WTF is this!?!
At this point I no longer found this strange but annoying. I ignored him, finished what I was doing and headed back upstairs.
From now onwards, wherever I went, it was mostly the grocery store, I worked very hard to ignore everyone and their madness. But apparently madness doesn’t want to be ignored.
Covid restrictions were removed, so people silently and closely hovering around me returned.
I was in the check-out line at the grocery store, standing a fair distance from the cashier while I wait (I like the idea of distancing) my turn. But then I half turned (to investigate what I glimpsed in my peripheral vision) to see a girl standing beside me (an inch of space between us), staring directly at me feignedly smirking. I thought twilight zone events occurred only at night.
Fed up with this, I moved over to the look at some flowers while I wait. Then it was my turn so I go over to the cashier to pay. While I was paying, I noticed the girl circling behind me to come and stand right beside me again, while she slowly and deliberately tapped her shopping bag as she continued to stare at me with a smirk.
I took my stuff and left. I figured either she has a mental disability, for which I’m not qualified to handle, or she is a hustler looking to “make a friend” (I’ve learnt this from experience). This is not normal behaviour of two people in a grocery store check-out line. This is similar to the behaviour of a predator circling its prey.
I was in an empty laundry room, all the machines are empty and in working order, but this man decided to use the washer right next to me. He didn’t acknowledge me with the normal politeness, but just robotically loaded his clothes into the machine.
It’s evident he can speak, since I heard him giggling on his phone and he understood me when I excused myself to move past him.
Am I stuck in some weird dream/nightmare? This can’t be reality. I’ve never encountered this bizarre behaviour in any of the countries I’ve visited or places I’ve lived.
I’ve encountered may odd human behaviours, being a public transit passenger: A couple of months ago, I shared the existence of an older man in mis-matched shoes, wearing a brassiere as headband, having a conversation with himself.
Walking along the sidewalk on the way home from the grocery store (residential street, not a grungy alley), I looked up to see a girl staring at me with a glacial smile. Who walks down the sidewalk smiling to themself or at strangers without saying a word?
Is there anyone else who have encountered this type of expression or am I the only one who has fallen into an alternate world of absurdity?
I’m accustomed to people (kids) looking at me mostly while I’m eating and I just figured they like to watch people eat. And I have no biases towards to madness - I enjoy going off the beaten path - but this is a different (novel) type of aberration.
There is more I could tell you which is typical of living with others. Like people pretending to ask for directions (it doesn’t matter to me if you want to pretend you don’t hear or understand me, I’m not stopping to babysit you; ask a police officer or one of the many businesses in the area or maybe just plan ahead). Men creeping closer and closer to you on the beach. But this post is way too long already.
This stupidness is enough to make me want to stay inside and only experience life through watching TV - self-imposed quarantine.
Smiling does not equal friendliness,