Monday, September 21, 2009


I went to the animal shelter last Friday. I walked a particularly eager dog. Actually, she walked me. For twenty minutes she yanked me up a hill and down a walking trail, stopping only briefly to roll in the grass. My shins were killing me! I had planned to walk several dogs that evening but needed a rest after that one, so I wandered from room to room and brushed a few kitties.

Then I bumped into a shady looking guy. He was skinny with shaggy gray hair, ripped up jeans and a faded shirt that said "Staff". He was mopping the floor with a kind of manic energy. First impression: is he homeless? Second impression: he must be doing court-ordered community service.

I tried to avoid him but he talked to me anyway. He asked if I was open to suggestion. I said, "Not really, no." That stopped him for a second. I don't think that was what I was supposed to say. Then he told me that if I wanted something to do I could fill up water bowls. I told him I was just about to leave. And then I left.

I don't know why I reacted that way. Maybe he reminded me of the felon on work release who used to rub my shoulders when I worked at Sizzler. I don't need to be hit on by another sketchy older man! Still, asking me to fill a water bowl was harmless. His shirt said "Staff", maybe he really is staff. You don't exactly wear your best clothes when you're cleaning up after a hundred animals. He was just too friendly and I don't like talking to strangers.

I'm a little depressed about it though. It occurs to me that I spend most of my time alone. Even at work I'm usually alone. People don't visit my cubicle very often. At lunchtime I bring something up to my desk and eat alone. I walk around grocery stores trying to avoid eye contact. The phrase "Secure in my anonymity" comes to mind. I hope not to be noticed.

It occurs to me that I'm working against myself here - because I'm lonely. Every future friend starts out as a stranger. I need to get over this reticence, especially now that I have to interview for another job. I do plan on going back to the shelter, and I suppose I should try talking to people while I'm there. It's silly, really. I'm only pretending to be shy. In reality I'm slightly snobbish because I think I'm smarter than everyone else.

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