Wedding Woes

I don't understand this person's problem...

Dear Prudence,
I’m a thirtysomething woman who works in a bustling downtown area of a major city. On a recent lunch break, I took a short walk down a busy thoroughfare and I accidentally bumped into a man walking beside me. I apologized and kept walking. As I paused at the next stoplight, this man (who looked to be in his 60s) asked me where I was headed. I said, “Work,” smiled politely, and hoped to end our conversation there. But he persisted, asking me where I worked (A store? A restaurant? No, and no.). He seemed perfectly nice, and spoke slowly; I think English was not his first language. He asked if I spoke Spanish, I smiled and said, “No, I took French in high school,” and then looked into the distance to encourage an end to our conversation. I was uncomfortable, and I am sure it was visually apparent. The light turned green, and I walked away quickly.

On the one hand, I can’t help but feel I was terribly rude when this fellow was only attempting to engage with me in harmless chatter. I’m a fairly introverted individual, and I honestly detest making small talk with strangers—be it a fellow on the street or a teller at my local bank. On the other hand, I believe that often men make demands on strange women’s attentions and ask invasive questions. What do you think? Should I have been kinder to this gentleman, who in the bright light of day, on the busiest boulevard in my city, posed me no risk?

—Zipped Lips

Re: I don't understand this person's problem...

  • People chat on street corners. You don't have to engage with them, or feel bad about not engaging. ir youre not interested in small talk, try headphones. 
    DrillSergeantCatOurWildKingdom
  • I get the nerves - she just bumped into him and now it feels like he is following her. Likely unrelated, but not impossible.

    Ignore and let it go.
    OurWildKingdom
  • Joney Joney
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    If he does this often he's probably used to introverts speed walking in the opposite direction.
    OurWildKingdom
  • Honestly, I feel like this is why people are so disconnected from others these days.

    Like, this person can't stand at a stoplight (that's, what, 30 seconds?) and make small talk with a stranger? She admits she felt safe, the problem was feeling weird talking to a stranger. I'm not saying she needs to "smile more" (neither did this dude), but I don't see any reason you can't exchange pleasantries for 30 seconds and be on your way. 
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    short+sassyOurWildKingdom
  • atomicblondeatomicblonde The Shire
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    I hate small talk, so this would have made me uncomfortable simply because it's small talk, but I wouldn't have written to Prudie.


    "And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me..."
    --Philip Pullman

    DrillSergeantCatMissKittyDangerlevioosa
  • I have sat next to overly chatty people like the man in the letter on the T (back when I commuted on the T) or on some of my flights for work. Nine times out of 10 they are completely harmless - just either overly friendly or sometimes lacking in social skills.

    Is it off-putting? Sometimes - but mostly because I'm not used to strangers being overly friendly. Is it annoying? Sometimes. But I just smile, make polite small talk back and then put my headphones on or become engrossed in my kindle and the small talk stops. Not once have I ever felt the need to write a letter to an advice columnist over it. 
    climbingwifeOurWildKingdomcharlotte989875
  • @sparklepants41 and @climbingwife, omg, yes.  Where I grew up in So. CA, it is also like that.  That was one of my bigger, unexpected culture shocks moving to NOLA.  My neighbors want to talk to chit chat for at least a few minutes, if we both happen to be outside at the same time.  Which is usually when I'm going out to my car because I am busy going somewhere, lol.  Strangers initiate friendly conversations all the time.

    And it's not even that I don't like people or am uncomfortable around strangers, I just prefer to stay in my bubble and focus on getting my stuff done.  I've adjusted but, even after living here for 15+ years, I'm still not very used to it and don't care for it.  But it's also not that big of a deal.

    My H, the Chatty Cathy I referenced in my above post lol, is usually really good at picking up on social cues.  But I'll still remind him if we're going back to So. CA that people aren't used to friendly banter with strangers.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • *Barbie**Barbie*
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
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    Reading this makes me happy I'm from New York. 


    Yeah, it sounds like this woman has a very "east coast" mentality - i describe Philly in the same way. 

    In Pittsburgh, it's a lot more common for people to be friendly towards strangers, make small talk, hold a door, smile, whatever. When we lived in Philly, it was a completely different atmosphere - you didn't talk, smile, make eye contact, etc. with strangers. Living in Houston, it's a much more friendly environment - not sure if it's the "southern hospitality" - but it wouldn't be weird here for a stranger to smile and make small talk while waiting to cross the street, or riding in an elevator. 

    I get the comment about men making inappropriate comments/passes at women/telling them to smile or harassing them in public - but it sounds like she wasn't creeped out by the guy, just annoyed that he was talking to her. I don't blame her for giving vague answers, but i also don't see the big deal in making small talk with a stranger for 30 seconds. 
    short+sassyOurWildKingdomcharlotte989875
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
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    @sparklepants41 and @climbingwife, omg, yes.  Where I grew up in So. CA, it is also like that.  That was one of my bigger, unexpected culture shocks moving to NOLA.  My neighbors want to talk to chit chat for at least a few minutes, if we both happen to be outside at the same time.  Which is usually when I'm going out to my car because I am busy going somewhere, lol.  Strangers initiate friendly conversations all the time.

    And it's not even that I don't like people or am uncomfortable around strangers, I just prefer to stay in my bubble and focus on getting my stuff done.  I've adjusted but, even after living here for 15+ years, I'm still not very used to it and don't care for it.  But it's also not that big of a deal.

    My H, the Chatty Cathy I referenced in my above post lol, is usually really good at picking up on social cues.  But I'll still remind him if we're going back to So. CA that people aren't used to friendly banter with strangers.



    It's funny. I notice it when I travel - how much people in other parts of the country chit chat with each other. It's just not something that happens here. But when I do encounter it, I'll oblige and just silently pray that it ends soon. I try to be as curt as possible. But good lord, I can't imagine ever being so bothered by a situation like this to write in to an advice columnist. Madness! 

    My H is also a chit chatter though, even though he grew up here too. He loves to chat with people, and it drives me insane. 

    short+sassy
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
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    I hate small talk so I would have hated this exchange too. But I wouldn't have written Prudie about it. I suck it up when strangers start to talk to me (like an adult). I also can tell when conversation is "small talk" versus the actual harassment women do encounter on a daily basis. There's a big difference in tone, insinuation, etc. 


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    OurWildKingdomDrillSergeantCat
  • divarhddivarhd
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    I think she was right to be uneasy.  This is a classic example of how woman get assaulted.  We're raised to be polite and be nice and predators know it....maybe he was just trying to engage in small talk, maybe he was hitting on her, but maybe not.  As soon as he asked where she works that's the red flag.
    Met: 5/4/16
    Dating: 6/21/16
    Engaged: 3/20/17
    Wedding: 2/24/18
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI
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    Image result for sarah silverman tips for men




    I love this!!!
    image









  • divarhd said:



    I think she was right to be uneasy.  This is a classic example of how woman get assaulted.  We're raised to be polite and be nice and predators know it....maybe he was just trying to engage in small talk, maybe he was hitting on her, but maybe not.  As soon as he asked where she works that's the red flag.






    Nope. Sorry. I needed to let this marinate because it triggered some serious anxiety within me. 

    Speaking as an actual survivor of rape, I find your comment extremely offensive. 

    My attacker was not a stranger on the street. There was nothing I could have done to prevent being raped. And just because a woman talks to a stranger on the street does not mean she has just made herself a target for assault. 

    You may not have meant your comment this way, but this is a classic example of how you need to proceed with caution when you make comments about sexual assault and how it happens. 




    QFT. This struck me as one of those chain emails where someone is like "READ THIS AND IT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE" and it's about using your keys like knuckle knives, telling people who try to help you to fuck off, and punching out a taillight when someone stuffs you in a trunk.....

    It would be FAR more helpful to send a chain email to men, Sarah Silverman style.
    Image result for sarah silverman tips for men

    Dear Men - please circulate this among your most entitled, douchy friends. Sincerely, Women Everywhere



    At the college I went to, we did have a rape awareness workshop that everyone was required to attend.  I wish it had been this blunt and up front.  But it did at least dispel the "stranger rape" myth and warned that, if a person is too drunk, they cannot consent to sex and that is rape.  Sadly, that last one was a "shocker" for some people.  For both men and women.

    Believe it or not, I had a guy pull #10 because he was mad at me.  Didn't use the word rape, per se, but that was the vibe I got because he had a real anger problem.  I'd never met him in person.  Met him on an online site.  We'd chatted a number of times.  Talked on the phone.  And had set up our first date, meeting at a restaurant.  Then, I guess he'd tried to chat with me when I wasn't home.  But Yahoo Chat had shown I was online.  So he sent me this tirade e-mail about how I was ignoring him, he knew I'd turn out to be a bitch.

    I did have access to my e-mail from work and replied right back that I wasn't home and wasn't on Yahoo Chat.  But I wasn't comfortable with the anger he had spewed at me over a supposed minor transgression and was no longer interested in meeting him.  There could have been all kinds of reasons I didn't respond back to his chat within 10 minutes.  His next e-mail was all kinds of sorrys.  Please still meet me.  Before I'd even had a chance to respond back, he sent another one that was back to Mr. Hyde.  In that one he told me something like, "Whatever, fine.  You're a bitch.  It's just as well you aren't going to meet me, I was just going to f**k you anyway."

    Then, hours later, left me a voice mail that he was so sorry for the misunderstanding earlier and was going to be at the restaurant at 7:00 like we'd planned.  And he really hoped I'd show up.  WTF!?!  Dude, not even with a Secret Service detail.      

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    sparklepants41cowgirl8238
  • Joney Joney
    100 Love Its 10 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
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    edited May 24
    Ugh. I am equally horrified with that story and sad that I know he's not an anomaly. 

    My friend and I were out one day, and started talking with two guys, so we decided to meet up with them later that night at a bar.

    We go, we meet, and it's clear my friend has a thing for guy #1.  So I chat with guy #2 (Pete).  Pete's choice of topics are:
    -how he has fucked many women;
    -how he walked into a bar, and THE HOTTEST WOMAN EVER was sitting on the bar stool. Every guy in the place was trying to fuck her, but she took one look at Pete, knew he would be an amazing lay, and fucked him in the bathroom;
    -has had many STIs;
    -has fucked many women he's met at the STI clinic;
    -conspiracy theories he believes to be true.

    **Trigger for indecent exposure**




    We go back to my friend's place for a beer. Friend and guy #1 promptly go into her bedroom, and Pete and I continue our chat. I don't know how or why he thinks I'm interested after our incredibly gross and detailed conversation about his (made up) sex life, but I'm sitting there, he walks over and pulls down his pants and shoves his penis in my face. Blank stare.  Eyebrow raise.  Nope, sorry Pete, not gonna happen.

    After a few minutes of me sitting motionless, Pete pulls up his pants.  I know he started getting aggressive because I threatened to kick him out, and I know he said he'd expected we would have sex that night after all the drinks he bought. He finished by asking if it was because his penis was only 1 cm big when hard -- probably the only accurate statement Pete had made about his sexual prowess the entire evening. 

    My friend finally emerges, Pete takes all the beer in her fridge, and leaves in a huff. 

    My roommate's BF won the day by coming up with a new nickname: he is henceforth known as Millimetre Peter.

    ETA: Pete clearly didn't care about my consent, and he felt pretty entitled to sex.  But maybe he was taking tip #8 to heart?
    short+sassy
  • Joney Joney
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    I hate that the onus falls on parents to un-teach what society tells us about consent, because not all parents are as thoughtful or responsible about it as @southernbelle0915, or they believe a lot of rape myths themselves and inadvertently pass along bad information.

    I don't remember what we learned about consent. Definitely nothing from my parents -- though maybe my brothers got a different sex talk than I did.  In school we learned boys could be raped, and an erection did not equate consent.  We also learned consent can be withdrawn at any time.

    Millimetre Peter was pretty "normal".  He was getting his masters, he had long term friendships, but he was replicating toxic masculine behavior that has been normalized to the extent that he didn't even recognize it aggressive or problematic.
  • *Barbie**Barbie*
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
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    Joney said:

    Ugh. I am equally horrified with that story and sad that I know he's not an anomaly. 

    My friend and I were out one day, and started talking with two guys, so we decided to meet up with them later that night at a bar.

    We go, we meet, and it's clear my friend has a thing for guy #1.  So I chat with guy #2 (Pete).  Pete's choice of topics are:
    -how he has fucked many women;
    -how he walked into a bar, and THE HOTTEST WOMAN EVER was sitting on the bar stool. Every guy in the place was trying to fuck her, but she took one look at Pete, knew he would be an amazing lay, and fucked him in the bathroom;
    -has had many STIs;
    -has fucked many women he's met at the STI clinic;
    -conspiracy theories he believes to be true.



    I'm guessing you went back because you were watching out with your friend - because I would have had enough of mm Peter at the bar to ever go to your friends' house for additional drinks.

    (also, i'm not saying that continuing to hang out with him justifies a dick in your face, just ew.)
  • Joney Joney
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    I don't properly remember, TBH. This was many years ago.  I don't think I wanted her to be on her own, but it was also during a time in my life I had trouble with saying 'no'.  I imagine if it had happened more recently, things would have played out differently.
  • divarhddivarhd
    25 Love Its 10 Comments Name Dropper
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    divarhd said:


    I think she was right to be uneasy.  This is a classic example of how woman get assaulted.  We're raised to be polite and be nice and predators know it....maybe he was just trying to engage in small talk, maybe he was hitting on her, but maybe not.  As soon as he asked where she works that's the red flag.




    Nope. Sorry. I needed to let this marinate because it triggered some serious anxiety within me. 

    Speaking as an actual survivor of rape, I find your comment extremely offensive. 

    My attacker was not a stranger on the street. There was nothing I could have done to prevent being raped. And just because a woman talks to a stranger on the street does not mean she has just made herself a target for assault. 

    You may not have meant your comment this way, but this is a classic example of how you need to proceed with caution when you make comments about sexual assault and how it happens. 


    You're also speaking to a rape survivor, hon.  And mine wasn't a stranger on the street either.  But now that i work for the courts, I know there are FAR MORE stranger on the street attacks than you actually hear about, and this letter is EXACTLY how they start.  And she always says "He seemed nice, I didn't think he'd hurt me, I didn't want to be rude."  So, yes, I'm very sorry to have triggered you or upset you, but you being offended is your own problem.  And I didn't mean rape specifically, but also robberies start out this way.  Men also try to get close to women in the event they have children who they can prey on (we just finished a trial like this).  Maybe my job has made me a cynical bitch, but damn if I'm gonna fall into the trap I've seen too many times.
    Met: 5/4/16
    Dating: 6/21/16
    Engaged: 3/20/17
    Wedding: 2/24/18

  • divarhd said:








    divarhd said:



    I think she was right to be uneasy.  This is a classic example of how woman get assaulted.  We're raised to be polite and be nice and predators know it....maybe he was just trying to engage in small talk, maybe he was hitting on her, but maybe not.  As soon as he asked where she works that's the red flag.






    Nope. Sorry. I needed to let this marinate because it triggered some serious anxiety within me. 

    Speaking as an actual survivor of rape, I find your comment extremely offensive. 

    My attacker was not a stranger on the street. There was nothing I could have done to prevent being raped. And just because a woman talks to a stranger on the street does not mean she has just made herself a target for assault. 

    You may not have meant your comment this way, but this is a classic example of how you need to proceed with caution when you make comments about sexual assault and how it happens. 




    You're also speaking to a rape survivor, hon.  And mine wasn't a stranger on the street either.  But now that i work for the courts, I know there are FAR MORE stranger on the street attacks than you actually hear about, and this letter is EXACTLY how they start.  And she always says "He seemed nice, I didn't think he'd hurt me, I didn't want to be rude."  So, yes, I'm very sorry to have triggered you or upset you, but you being offended is your own problem.  And I didn't mean rape specifically, but also robberies start out this way.  Men also try to get close to women in the event they have children who they can prey on (we just finished a trial like this).  Maybe my job has made me a cynical bitch, but damn if I'm gonna fall into the trap I've seen too many times.


    I am very sorry for what happened to you. 

    I don't appreciate your condescension. I'm not your "hon."

    And don't tell me that my being offended is my problem when you're being nothing but offensive. 

    Oh and "I'm sorry, but..." is not an apology.
    JediElizabethlevioosacharlotte989875DrillSergeantCat
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