I was walking home from my counseling appointment last week and a man on a bike, who appeared to be related to Stephen Colbert's friend "The Professor", approached me.
He stopped at my side and mumbled something. He seemed to be talking to me, expecting a reply but I didn't understand him so I replied, "Excuse me... What did you say?"
"Do you know where Main Street is?" he asked looking a bit more upset at having to repeat himself.
I've lived here 4 years now, but I still don't have a clue. Prior to his question I was actually impressed with by myself for walking home by myself because there's a very good possibility that I'll get lost (if only due to nerves about putting myself in such a situation), but now I was embarrassed not to know directions for this man.
With all the stuff in my head the best things I could say was, "Sorry, I wasn't born here." (Well, "I'm not from around here" isn't true, and any other version of the truth would take hours from this man's life, so that's what I said.)
His response was to straighten up and pull away from me & protect himself from this crazy woman. As he said, "You're not from Fargo?!" his eyes widened with fear and he took off before I could say anything else.
In that moment I became the crazy one to be suspicious of.
Flash forward to this week.
Hubby is late to pick me up from the counselor's office, so I start walking home again down the same street where I met last week's Professor. Hubby drives down the street and toots his horn because he can't stop on the street, so I assume he'll drive around the block and meet me at next cross street ahead. As I approach the corner I look to my left, down the street, and I can just make out our van approaching.
A young man on a bike, clearly annoyed, yells to me, "It says 'walk.'"
"Congratulations, you can read," I snipe back without thinking.
Then it hits me, this young guy looks more angry and upset than the Professor did; perhaps my snotty retort isn't so smart... Sure, hubby's almost here, and the biker has continued through the crosswalk, but what if I were alone and he hadn't? Shouldn't I know better than to piss off some guy who already seems pissed off -- and who looks like he can do something about it?
Then it hit me, if things were to head down hill I can always just say, "Sorry, I wasn't born here," and let that put the fear into him.
(Image of Jimmy Fingers, The Professor, from The Colbert Report, © Comedy Central.)