Thursday, June 18, 2009

Speak no Evil

At the gas station, I rolled down my window, and told the attendant fifteen dollars of regular. I don't know, maybe everyone goes to Jersey, says fill it up, and leaves it at that. I wanted to get the best price, but I was very low on fuel, so I decided to get just about half a tank. This didn't seem like a big deal to me, but the attendant asked, fifteen? Normally in New Jersey, the gas stations are run by some big Sihk organization, and most of the guys have turbans, full beards and heavy accents. The youngish man at my window, though he had dark hair and eyes, had none of those attributes, and so I figured he understood me, and yet he was asking me to repeat my request. Fifteen, I repeated.
Fifteen? He said again.
One, five, I answered him.
One, five? he said?
Wow, I was in the twilight zone again, I was thinking.
Fifteen. I went back to the normal numerical request.
Fifteen?, he aked once more.
Yes, I finally capitulated.
Easy, he said, and proceeded to pump the gas.
Yeah, easy for you to say, I was thinking.

Later, near home, I went to buy milk. The man behind the counter at the local convenience store was friendly enough. He went to put my milk in a plastic bag. I was holding my own shopping bag up on the counter for him to put my purchase. He started to use his own bag again, and I thrust my bag forward again. After the third time repeating this mime, I said "my bag".
He said "I just wanted to see if you would talk".
I laughed, and told him that often, I don't need to talk, and things work out just fine.

It's interesting though, maybe a lot of discussion is what these strangers want from me. It is obvious what I want, and what is going on, but not talking at all seems to them to be aberrant behavior, but for me, it seems okay, particularly early in the morning, when I have not yet spoken to anyone.

Once, on a bus, I almost got into trouble. A black man sat next to me on the almost completely empty bus. I was nervous about him, so I did not say anything. Then he said "What, are you skin struck?" a new phrase for me. I was surprised at that and not speaking, pointed at my hand. "He said, hey, you can't talk, can you?" I thought this might make me less attractive to him so I shook my head in the affirmative. Unfortunately, this was just adorable to him, and he continued to make a pass at me. I mimed that I was married, by pointing at my ring finger, and though there was in fact, no ring on my hand, he understood, but still did not seem to mind. He was musing over our future together, when I decided to get off the bus before my stop, hoping that he would not follow me. " Goodbye, my girlfriend", he yelled, at my retreating back, "see you soon!"I had to walk another twenty blocks, but it was worth it not to be a mute any longer than I had to.

Some days I just don't speak on purpose, and some days it happens by accident. It does not seem to matter, odd things just happen to me, and that's all I can figure.

1 comment:

  1. Skin struck. That's a phrase I haven't heard either. Whole days without saying a word. I think I'd like to try that.



Got something to say? I'd like to hear from you.