Evidence that my unique brand of compassion is lost on some

I was walking down the street.  (Hey up, I hear you say.  You can't walk down your own hallway without triggering some kind of national emergency.  Go on, what did you do?  Cause a riot?  Fall down a drain?  Start a fire?)

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.)


  1. I'm thinking some kind of guano allergy. Or she was agrophobic and being under an umbrella somehow made her feel like she was still safely indoors. Or she was just looking to provoke a fight with someone...?

    Personally, I'm glad that there are people like you in the world who will tell me when I got out with my trouser zip at half mast. You would tell me, right?

  2. Fran, you're clearly a natural born sky-captain superhero and you're welcome to help me any day. Tell me I forgot to brush my hair and I'll thank you profusely. Tell me I misplaced an apostrophe and I'll adopt you.

  3. Some people are beyond help! LOL :)

  4. Oh dear. I'm trying to imagine what expletives you used but imaginatively disguised here with asterisks and ampersands. Just swear! Go for it. But censorship does allow for creativity, eh?

    Yes, she seemed a bit sensitive -- well, maybe even insensitive, let alone irrational.

  5. For asterisks sake, Fran, she doesnt deserve your inappropriate use of umbrella pointing outing.

  6. Way too funny . . . very visual!

  7. I am still a bit stunned by the last post where your husband stays in bed and you try not to wake him. Cardinal Newman had better wait in line.

  8. I think she'd heard that an asteroid might strike us any day within the next million years. Better safe than sorry. Think what happened to the dinosaurs.

    You simply misheard her. She was saying "asteroid, asteroid, asteroid, asteroid..."

  9. Oh I didn't know & was called an ampersand - thanks :-)
    Some people are just rude for no apparent reason, I wonder if anyone else tackled her that day.

  10. Ahh, but was she answering to you or to the voices in her head? Maybe umbrellas are the new tin-foil head protectors.

  11. Come on, she's has a psychiatric problem, she didn't notice your compassion, kindness and concern.She was in a world of her own where maybe that big umbrella was protecting her from death rays or inappropriate remarks.Not funny, very sad.Hope she had somewhere to go.

  12. Anonymous19/9/10 02:50

    Maybe you had interrupted her fantasy. The umbrella was a parasol and she was doing flirty eyes at eligible manhood, humming 'someday my prince will come'.

    I have a story about someone who was seen with toilet paper trailing from beneath her skirt....

  13. Maybeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....
    ...she had just left the hairdresser, where she thought she'd had an appointment to get rid of her "roots" and had been told she had the date wrong. She was hiding her Bad Hair.

  14. Steve - I can just see this conversation happening when I meet you in the High Street. 'Hey, aren't you the Bloggertropolis guy? Nice to meet you. And, by the way, your flies are undone.'

    Mi'se - I wouldn't dream of commenting on peoples' misu'ses of apostrophe's.

    Jinksy - you say some people are beyond help. If only I were sure that you meant the Umbrella Woman and not me ....

    Lovable - I wasn't doing the expleting - she was!

    Brigid - I love 'for asterisks sake'!

    Dyche Designs - thank you. 'Visual' is good.

    Elizabethm - Yeah, I need beatifying. Or maybe just beautifying would do.

    Isabelle - you made me laugh. Perhaps she was saying 'asteroid'. I should get my ears checked.

    Eliza - if anyone DID tackle her, she had Plenty Big Weapon with which to fight back.

    English Rider - maybe you're right, and she was hearing voices. Just not mine.

    Von - you made me feel guilty with your compassionate comment. *Repentant sob*

    Christine - do tell, do tell. I look forward to that blog (bog?) post.

    June - In which case, if you're right, I offer her my full respect. That's a great way of hiding the Bad Hair and I may even try it myself.

  15. I wish you had been in Tesco when I walked round the shop covered in black ink from my leaking pen......

  16. *LOL* You know, in South East Asian countries women have the umbrella up on sunny days to AVOID getting a tan! They strive to achieve pale fairness in the same way Westerners try to achieve that bronzed look!

  17. Linds - you and me both. I wish you could have been on the train with me today when I carried a piece of toilet paper all the way down the carriage with me trailing from my shoe.

    JC - Great to meet you! And thanks for following. Yes, I am told this about people using umbrellas as sunscreens. But are they still called umbrellas (or the equivalent)?


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