Evidence that my unique brand of compassion is lost on some
Gimme a break, guys. All I did was ask a woman with her umbrella up whether she realised it had stopped raining ten minutes ago.
Oh. My. Giddy. Aunt. Over-sensitive or WHAT?
I don't know. You go out for a walk to the shops. All you want is a packet of biscuits and a bag of sugar. You see a fellow mortal, obviously in need of a bit of help, so even though you're in a hurry, you stop to give a hand. Often it's someone selling a magazine to get themselves a bed for the night. You buy the magazine even though you won't read it, just to help her out. Or it's a guy playing old Beatles songs on a guitar only it doesn't sound like the Beatles: it sounds like three strangled cats and a vacuum cleaner. So what? You give him a few pennies.
Well, it's only the same thing. You see a woman with her brolly up by mistake. You give her advice about her umbrella and the way in which it's in no way useful in the current weather situation. You smile, so glad to be of use, waiting for her to laugh and say, 'Oh my gosh! Really? Thank you SO much.' Maybe she'll even say, 'Look, come and have a coffee. On me. Just because you're so NICE and I don't know what I'd have done if you hadn't come along.'
But she didn't.
All I got, for my pains, was **&!*!**&!*&&&**.
I was taken aback. For a start, I've never heard anyone say 'asterisk asterisk ampersand exclamation mark asterisk exclamation mark asterisk asterisk ampersand exclamation mark asterisk ampersand ampersand ampersand asterisk asterisk' before. It took her quite a while and I kept looking at my watch, thinking, 'The shop will close soon if she doesn't shut up.' But she was obviously upset, so I didn't want to say this out loud and risk another burst. (I deal with punctuation all week. Saturdays, I need a rest.)
Also, though, why was she so upset? Didn't she realise what a dork she looked, with her umbrella up, and not a spot of rain falling? And dork she definitely looked, especially as the umbrella was one of those golfing ones designed to cover holes 1-18 and a few fields either side.
I watched her as she went down the road, sure that she'd put that umbrella down once she'd passed me and had her little punctuation-peppered say.
Nope. All the way down the street and round the corner, and that umbrella was still up, poking people in the eye left, right and centre and making folks step into the road to walk around it. Which is all very well - you don't mind a poke in the eye with a wet, totally justified umbrella, sure. But a dry one? That's just insulting.
Yeah, well. All I can say is, that's all the compassion she'll get from me now. She's had her chance. If I see her in the street, and she's got her dress tucked into her knickers, or toilet paper stuck to her foot, or there's a dirty great BEAST of a man with a three-foot beard and a rabid look in his black eyes, just about to leap onto her back from a first-floor window, she's on her own.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: maybe she had some kind of condition that meant she couldn't expose her skin to the sun. Fran's being a bit harsh there, surely.
Well, there WAS no sun.
I know what you're thinking now. Maybe, even if it wasn't raining, someone had said to her, 'Look, if you walk down that street, you're likely to meet this mad woman - plump, dark hair. Whatever you do, don't establish eye contact. I think a massive umbrella's the best way. Here, borrow mine.'
(I've tried to help people before, with about the same level of success. Look here to read about it.)