they only come out at night... or, in this case, the day

So I was riding the bus and we came to a stop. This elderly man with a cane comes through the side entrance and slowly walks up the eisle. There is no one else on the bus, and he sits right next to me! I was somewhat startled, I mean, he could have sat anywhere and he sits beside me.

I say to him, “There’s another seat over there”, pointing to one of the many empty seats. He speaks to me in a raspy voice, “Is anyone sitting here?” Now how do I answer that? Do I say “no” and risk being called a liar, or “yes”, which can be interpreted in two ways. In any case, he wins. So I kept quiet.
I couldn’t help but glance at his ‘old-fashioned’ clothing and his weathered face, and his foggy eyes.

Then, I got off the bus and went to the public library. I was looking through the stacks and I picked up a book to read when I felt someone looking at me. Indeed someone was, though not the man from the man from the bus. I don’t like to catagorize people, but he looked unsavory. I looked at him and then went back to my book. But I had to look again because he was staring at me!

Now, I was feeling nervous because he was at the other side and I was between the book stacks so I go moved out and looked to see where he was. His eyes were still locked in mine and he began to look confrontational and started to approach me. :eek: I blurted out “Excuse me?” and opened my arms in a non-threatening geasture. I became more nervous and started to walk towards the reference desk while looking back. He began to walk away and I last saw him turn down a hallway.

So can any Dopers make anything of these two encounters. Why did the old man sit right next to me when the bus was empty?
Why was that other man in the library staring at me? I just don’t know what to make of it.

Maybe it’s the way you fold your tinfoil hat?

Seriously, I can’t tell you for sure about those two guys, but ask yourself this: If you’re in a group of ordinary people, do you notice that a sort of buffer zone forms between you and the rest of the group? They could be picking up on that distance.

This happens to me a lot. I can be in a crowd, and if that crowd contains someone who is downright strange, that person will find me. Near as I can tell, all people read me as not weird, but not likely to be on the same wavelength, and therefore not of interest for conversation. I also tend to gravitate away from crowds. So if I’m in a public place or a large gathering, there’s usually open space around me. This seems to be an invitation to the truly “different” to come up and start talking to me. I think the thought process goes something like:

  • Ordinary don’t want to be around me and I don’t want to be around them.
  • Oh, look - there’s someone who is being avoided by ordinary people.
  • We must have something in common!

That could be what’s happening to you. Folks who are unnerved by ordinary people perceive you as safe.

I don’t know about the second guy but the first guy was probably God. I hear he rides the bus just like one of us. Maybe he was testing you?

Did you check to make sure you were wearing all the necessary clothes? Like pants, for instance? Never mind checking your fly; were you actually wearing pants? If you weren’t, be assured that checking your fly is not all that usefull.

Are you female AND attractive? Some guys just don’t understand that it can be rude to stare for an obscene amount of time. The first guy may just be off his rocker.

Like cwthree I seem to be a magnet for loons–although I have a different explanation.

I think that the crazies are just being contrary. For some (presumably crazy) reason they tend to do the opposite of what they believe a sane person would do. I don’t care for the company of strangers and don’t feel any great need to meet new people. Ordinary people pick up on that and, generally, leave me alone. The nutjobs sense the same non-verbal signals and intentionally (or subconciously) ignore them.

I can be in a commuter train car full of people studiously avoiding eye contact, and when the weirdo boards he heads straight for me and starts a conversation in the middle as if (and sometimes implying that) we were old friends. When I do attend a social function the strange guy that nobody seems to have invited will place himself between the party and me and seek to monopolize my attention.

The only solution I’ve found is to be very loudly rude. Shouting “Look, I told you, I’m not gay. Now leave me alone!” for everyone to hear does wonders.

The point is that the bus was empty, it wasn’t like he could have sat next to another person. He could have sat anywhere! The place was bloody empty!! And if he wanted to start a conversation,
why did he keep quiet for the entirely of the trip, except for that cryptic question? He could have sat across from me and talked about whatever for all I care.

As for the second guy, I had a feeling that he was looking to start a fight or something. I don’t know for what reason. I had the ‘gut instinct’ that I better get out of there.

It is not normal for a person to continue to stare into a stranger. I mean, I don’t know how long he would be staring at me while I was reading before he did something.

The old man might have just been lonely but didn’t was to talk, just be near another human.

The second guy could be thinking the same thing about you. “This girl kept looking at me. I think she was pissed off at me for something.”

Maybe you’re dead and don’t know it? Quick! Breath on a mirror! If it doesn’t fog up, stop posting immediately as it’s against the rules to post post-death.

This, however…

is the really disturbing part. I’ve seen people turn down chocolate, drinks, and offers of casual romantic encounters, but never a hallway.

Well, maybe it’s not that disturbing, but I’ve never seen it happen.

This Humble Opinion has been Pointlessness-Enhanced for your viewing pleasure.

Maybe the old guy on the bus just always sat in that seat. Possibly his vision isn’t that good so he makes a point of always sitting in the same seat on the bus. Or maybe he’s just that OCD.

The other guy is anyone’s guess :slight_smile:

Look, I’m sorry. I … I didn’t realize I was staring, OK? I was thinking about something, which I find myself doing at the library from time to time, and just sort of staring off into space. You really startled me with that “Excuse me” business. I saw in your face that you were disturbed so I wanted to come over and apologize but then I realized I had an urgent erection and had to go…someplace…for a moment.

I tried that but nothing happened. I think that it was an anti-fog mirror. Anyway, I don’t have any use for mirrors…

Thanks for all your posts. I was hoping to get a modern day Freud to analyze those characters. I can’t explained it. They were nutters, that’s all I can acertain. I guess that’s why they call it unexpected behavior.

I did some volunteer work at an old folks’ home once, and there was this old lady who, on my first day, followed me around as I went about my chores, talking my ear off. I pretty much tuned her out. I was feeling a little guilty when I returned the next day, so I sat with her at lunch. She must have picked up a bit on my hostility/embarrassment, and she didn’t talk much. So I tried to make conversation, and asked how she liked the place, how it compared to when she lived alone (I’d picked up that much from the previous day). She said that she much preferred it in here, where there were other bored and senile people to talk to and play the occasional game of mahjong with. She said that when she lived alone in a government housing estate, she’d try, as often as her health would allow (she had arthritis, IIRC), to hang around other people; in the park or the little gardens they build in the center of an estate cluster where all the old people congregate and even on the minibus to the market, she’d always try to sit with another passenger or at least in the front of the bus, so that if she suddenly dropped dead, someone would notice. (For people unfamiliar with Hong Kong, there are often stories of seniors dying in their little apartments alone and not being discovered until the neighbours started to smell the rot.) Now, she continued, she only had to worry about dying alone when she’s in the loo.

I thought it was the saddest thing I’d ever heard.

So there you go. My first mundane pointless anecdote in someone else’s thread.

I don’t think you’ll get a straight answer here (like you ever would, anyways ;)).

They could be loony. They could be ticked-off at some perceived slight. Who knows? Unless you ask them, nobody will.