Monday
Aug092010

Stranger Danger: Like Mother, Like Daughter (by Miss G.)

bekind

Miss G, like Mrs. G., has always had a knack for attracting people who want to spill their guts. Miss G has never been someone who divulges information easily, but for whatever reason, she frequently finds herself playing unwilling therapist to friends, acquaintances, and even strangers who happen to sit down next to her on the bus.

The weekend before last, Miss G was at a friend’s house taking photos of something that he wanted to sell on E-Bay. As she was leaving, his next-door-neighbor, an older woman working in her garden, called over to her and asked if she was a photographer. Miss G said it was just a hobby, but the woman came out from around the fence and blocked her path to the street. Her name was Susan, she made and sold her own jewelry by hand and, most importantly, she desperately needed someone to take photos of it for her burgeoning website.

Before Miss G could say anything else, Susan hustled her into the house, and as Miss G stepped over the threshold, she said a short prayer that Susan was not, in fact, a serial killer or the type of woman who might use her basement as some sort of dungeon for prostitutes and errant 19-year-olds.

The house was cluttered but homey, and Susan’s husband bustled around in the kitchen, seemingly unbothered by the fact that his wife was dragging in college kids off the street. Susan pulled out some of her jewelry and discussed possibly lighting and arrangements for future photoshoots, all the while searching for a card to write down her contact info.

Somewhere between grabbing the jewelry and the business cards, Susan began to tell Miss G about her life. Namely, that she suffered from serious depressions, had no children, had lost her job and was now, at the advice of her shrink, making jewelry to take her mind off of unemployment. She worked regularly with a healer and a naturopath, and struggled with family issues. As Miss G sat frozen on the couch, Susan talked in length about how her father and mother had never supported her graduate degree in art history, had favored her sister Lizzy, and that she was now estranged from many of her nieces and nephews. This topic segued into a tangent on how she just had no idea who she would will her many sets of dishes to, now that so many of aforementioned nieces and nephews were “out of the picture”.

No amount of “well, it was nice talking to you”-s, cleared throats, or uncomfortable shifts from side to side could deter Susan from her story and, all told, Miss G spent close to an hour sitting in an arm chair in a strange woman’s house listening to her tale of woe. When they finally parted, Susan pressed two pairs of home-made earrings on her, assuring Miss G that “everyone deserves to be pampered, everyone deserves to be treated like a princess.”

While Miss G loves both pairs of earrings, this was still one of the strangest encounters she’s ever had.

What’s the strangest, most unsolicited tale you’ve ever heard from a stranger?

 

 

missgskirt

 

Miss G. is a senior in college and Mrs. G's favorite daughter.

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Reader Comments (29)

This happens to me sometimes too, but usually not w/ complete strangers Miss G-- you have the patience of Job.

It's always hard to say no when you sense the person is just hanging on by a couple of threads. Sometimes you don't even know if you helped, but you know you did no harm (ala Hippocratic oath)...

August 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjack

I was once on a field trip to the zoo with a first grade class and another mom (that I really didn't know except to wave "hi" to) told me the whole story of her husband's infidelity and her leaving him. I think it happened because it was so fresh (like only a couple of days before) and she just needed someone to hear the story.

August 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life

Not a strange stranger story, although I seem to also attract a lot of hobos with the crazy stories. But back in 1992 I had been together with my future wife about 6 weeks and she asked if I wanted to fly with her to Kansas City, meet her family and that sort of thing (we married soon thereafter :). On the flight out there was the nicest man, with whom we had nothing in common, but he was friendly and uncrazy. He was retired army and loved Kansas, and heard our story of you know, just getting together and all lovey dovey. He told us "no matter what, through thick and thin, never forget why you got together". Me and the wife get along very well, but it is profound and simple guiding advice, and you wish more people tried to remember why they fell in love to begin with, and to try and be that best person their lover fell for too.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergary rith

As a librarian, I hear all sorts of tales -- family woes, health problems, etc. It's amazing how desperate some people are to unburden themselves, even (or especially?) to a stranger.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter*m*

That would definitely be JR down the street. He gave my (one-year-old) daughter a quarter, then invited me into his backyard to see his plants. I went, praying he wasn't going to chop us up into a million pieces, but got a wonderful story out of him about being a hobo, trying to commit suicide and failing, and just doing what you love no matter what. I know some people may not like to be approached by strangers, but I absolutely love talking to people about their lives, or just having a quick conversation with a stranger in the grocery store. Another time I talked to a lady at a fashion show here in KC who turned out to be a former Broadway actress. Fabulous!

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

A couple of years ago my middle child was in pre-school and I tagged along on a field trip. His teacher (who wasn't a stranger but she was strange) started telling me all about how she had found condom rappers in her step-son's trash can. Then she had to tell me all about how she doesn't believe in pre-marital sex and so she had to have a big talk with this step son. -She did say this away from the children, we were watching them play.

Just to give you a mental image of this woman, I'd often drop my child off and notice that this 50-something woman was wearing a floral print pinafore dress w/slouch sock and velcro sneakers.

My husband came home from work one night last week and told a similar story from a co-worker about the same woman. When she was dating her now husband she told another pre-school parent about how she was a virgin and how she and her boyfriend were getting engaged. She was so excited that would get to have sex after the wedding. Just what you want to discuss with a woman you barely know in a situation where you can't really get away!

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen

i once went to a bed and breakfast in duluth to write a story about the place for the paper. and instead of talking about her b&b, the owner tried to sell me Amway products. for two hours.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlaurie

Most of my strangest encounters often happen with family, unfortunately. Once I was at the mall and a strange woman started calling me "bitch"...over and over. And over. And "whore". I had never seen or spoken to this person before. Turns out, it was just someone with Tourettes. Awesome.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterapathy lounge

I once worked for a small non-profit doing fundraising. I don't remember the reason - maybe I had to drop something off? - but I visited a potential donor at her home. She was an older lady, quite wealthy, but who lived alone. She served me coffee and sat down and told me this incredibly intimate, heartbreaking story about her life, how she met her husband, and how he passed away. I left feeling touched, and like I'd really connected with her.

A couple days later my co-worker asked me about my visit to the lady, and what I thought about her. I just started to tell her how much I'd liked the lady, when my co-worker went into a long, detailed story about HER encounter with the woman - which had been almost exactly like me.

I got the feeling that this lonely woman probably told that very same story in the very same words to everyone she encountered, even the plumber, the cable guy and the postman.

As an experience, it was both touching and alienating.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow (g)

Ooh, my first reply on this stie!

Eck, both my DH and I are magnets for these kind of people. It's the major drawback of being an empath.

Me? I've destroyed friendships in the past because of what I originally thought was a friendship was, essentially, me playing psychologist. I finally snapped because what was I getting out of it? Seriously? My closest friendship at the time exploded when I told said "friend" she needed professional help. Understand that it's not because I didn't care -- I certainly did -- but there's a difference between that and friends venting to each other.

A woman my DH worked with some 20-odd years ago found him on FB. He gave her our phone number and thought nothing more. The woman started calling him 3-4 times a day for about 2 hours each time rambling on and on much like Miss G's "friend". He, too, was in that awkward position of wanting to be polite but no longer wanting to listen. I don't know what he finally said to her, but she no longer calls him.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkizzy

This happens to me kind of a lot too. At Mass on Easter Sunday several years ago I sat next to a woman who had just left her husband. I know this because she literally cried on my shoulder the ENTIRE Mass. I heard about everything and I felt badly for her and all the drama she was having to deal with. Another time, someone I am acquainted with came up to me while my kids and I were out with another family and started telling me about how he was kind of cheating on his wife, but not really since they weren't having sex and what did I think he should do? I told him to just knock it off with the other woman.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy G. (no relation)

When my son was in kindergarten a woman whose daughter was in the same class walked over to me the second week of school and said "I need a ride to the doctor." Not could you, would you mind, sorry to impose, etc...just a point blank statement as if the outcome had already been decided. Since I am a sap (and will probably be found someday in above said dungeon or the like...) I took her. Which turned into a trip to the Rx and the grocery store because she was so sick there was no food in the house. This woman was married and though I wondered what was wrong with with him figured my nose did not belong in their business. After this 3 hour marathon I dropped her at her house and offered to pick up her daughter after school so she could stay in . The reply "Oh no, we have told her to never go anywhere with strangers"... Well I guess that didn't apply to the Mom because she didn't know me AT ALL!!! The best part...she never said Thank you and NEVER spoke to me again! People ARE strange Miss G and they are EVERYWHERE!!! You are a good soul!

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbramble

That is my favorite quote from Plato.

I guess the bright side is that Miss G can arrange to never see her again.

My neighbor frequently stops me and/or my husband to regale us with tales from his job as a litigation lawyer for phone companies. For hours at a time. Just this weekend, he told me all about how he has become known as, "a sort of Zen Warrior in the industry," as I innocently tried to tend my garden in my own backyard. I was literally hoping I would pass out from heat exhaustion just to be able to escape.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteremily

A neighbor my daughter did some babysitting for but I had never spent any time with came over to tell me all about her husband's affair with her best friend who my daughter had also done some baby sitting for. The two then left their spouses to move in together. She told me all about her spinal cancer and surgeries and his Aspergers Syndrom and on and on. After that day she never came over to talk to me again, but it meant a lot more babysitting for my daughter!

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrightside-Susan

One of my most awkward happened during the time I was between pharmaceutical jobs and was selling copiers door to door (ACK - horrible job, but looks great on my resume). One afternoon, I called on the owner of a used car dealership and he basically interrupted my sales presentation to inquire if I considered myself a Christian. I decided to keep it simple and said "yes". Well, he then asked a litany of questions and ended up with me kneeling with him and PRAYING and finally he declared that I was BORN AGAIN!

Good Lord!!!

He did end up buying a small copier - but I still felt victimized - I did not know how to politely turn him off. I'm not sure I would be much better now - but I like to think I could say something about how this is a very PERSONAL decision and my spiritual needs have already been addressed.

Thanks for the topic Miss G! I haven't thought about this in years!

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

I can't think of a story involving a stranger at the moment, but there was this one time I was accosted at the zoo by someone I barely knew and hadn't seen in years. I'd only met her once or twice in passing, but she really remembered me and wouldn't let me go until she'd told me every crazy thing that had happened to her in the past 4 years since I'd seen her and tried to set up her two very embarrassed daughters (about 14 and 15) with my 13-year-old son. She clearly was not quite stable. The daughters kept running off, as did my kids. I stood there in the heat in utter shock. I felt bad for this woman and the things she'd been through, but I didn't know how to help and she was carrying on in the craziest way. We were in an open spot. I could have gotten away if she'd been a threat, but since she wasn't, I was held captive. I couldn't be rude and just walk away. Maybe she just needed someone to listen to her. So I listened. I'm a good listener. But the crazier her story and actions got, the more nervous the situation made me. When I'm nervous I sometimes giggle--uncontrollably. As I stood there with the giggle slowly working it's way up, I looked about desperately for an excuse to leave. I yelled at the kids to stop doing things even though they weren't doing anything wrong, but I couldn't get away, and I just prayed she wouldn't notice the smiling creeping up or the occasional titter. I wasn't trying to laugh at her. It wasn't the least bit funny. I was just--nervous. I finally used my husband's cousin who was also standing there as an excuse. "Didn't you have to..." She almost didn't catch on and corroborate my story. I almost had to step on her foot or elbow her, but she understood just in time, and we got out of there. I've always felt bad about that. I wish I had known what to say or do, but maybe all she really needed after all was someone to listen.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenni in KS

I don't have just one of these situations, more of a pattern, really. Older - well, just plain old, actually - widow ladies at my church approach me, hold my hand, and cry, sometimes that's it, no story. I wonder "am I dying?". The story I'm told more often than not is how much they miss their husbands, and how lucky I am that mine is so terrific (which I am and he is), but it gives me pause because there are lots of terrific husbands and wives in our church and no one else seems to draw this sort of attention. Maybe I appear to need affirmative Titus 2 instruction or something ?- anyway, I try to listen carefully and behave as happy and grateful as I feel. And they're saving me from fellowship donuts with what seems to be actual fellowship, so it's not all bad.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrachael

Ah yes I am familiar w this sort of situation. Beware Miss G, some of us are born with an ulltra-violet tattoo across our foreheads saying 'Weirdos stop here'.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertrash

One of my MANY most memorable encounters with people-who-confide-too-much was in the grocery store in a very small town I lived near. I saw a lot of the residents often, as they came in to conduct their business in any of the offices in my building, but I didn't KNOW a lot of them, past their names and addresses, etc.

One of the funniest moments in my "curbstone therapy" career was the day that a man followed me from aisle to aisle in the grocery store; he'd recently had gallbladder surgery, and was determined to tell me every detail, fore and aft. He was quite a large man, with a roundness tapering down to very tiny feet.

As he told his tale of medical happenings, I kept walking and kept putting things into my basket, as he merely kept walking and talking. I'd stop, confer with the produce man or speak to friends and continue on, while he'd halt in mid-sentence and take up right where he'd left off. On and on went his long recital, as I began to speed up and try to put other shoppers between us.

No avail---he just kept dodging them, even talking louder and louder of things best left inside the hospital, some quite personal things, and I was almost in a run at times, with his twinkling little feet keeping pace behind me. I sped through the checkout and hurried to my car as he was delayed by having to stop and pay for his purchases.

And now, many years later, when I think of that idiotic race through the canned beans and the Clorox and cheese, my mind makes it into a real cartoon---my remembrance of it now is of my flight through the maze of groceries, and a vision of his talking and talking, grounded only by his hands on the basket, and bobbing merrily along in my wake like a Macy's balloon.

And Mrs. G---thank you for dropping in today---I'd linked DM and written of my delight at its resurrection back in July at http://lawntea.blogspot.com/2010/07/happy-returns.html

You don't know how very pleased your vast audience is at your return.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterracheld

PS I was so carried away with the story, I didn't say that a VERY great bonus is having these wonderful articles from MISS G again, as well---they've always been a bright spot.

rachel

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterracheld

As president of the PTO, I've often wondered what we could accomplish if people volunteered the equivalent amount of time they spend calling me to explain (in great confessional detail) the reasons they are unable to volunteer. The previous president swears she never had this problem; I guess some of us are simply more prone to listening.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Once, while working in a grocery store, two separate people told me the same story about their purchases. I should mention that it was Easter day. Person 1 was a prosperous-looking 40-50something black man in a church suit. Person 2 was a 60+ white lady in a jogging suit.

They both were buying fresh pig's feet -- a LARGE quantity (like 15 pounds?) -- and green paper Easter grass.

They both -- one at 10 a.m., one at 1 p.m. -- told me that they were buying these items
To Decorate The Easter Tree.

When I mentioned to person2 that person1 had said the same thing, she shrugged, like "well, yeah..."

I remain utterly perplexed.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkate in Michigan

Not a total stranger... I took my 2 year old to a play date at P's house. P's husband was an employee of my husband's. (Which makes this even weirder.) It was our first playdate, but we'd met each other casually a few times before. P felt the need to share with me all of her college drug stories. Which, well, wasn't TOO off the wall, even if we didn't quite know each other that well. But then she told me about how she once was high around her dad, and of course he knew she was high because when P was younger, her family was very poor because their dad would spend all their money on drugs and hookers. Once, he even got TWO hookers at the same time on the side of the road just outside of Boston. And, since P was the oldest, the father would enthrall her with the stories of his conquests and adventures. All this was told to me like it's all perfectly normal... Of course he shared because she was the OLDEST. Doesn't everyone?

CRAZY weird that she would share that with me.

August 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTibi

Back in the late 80's when I was in my 20's, I worked for an engineering firm in downtown N.O. The company paid for our parking in a garage about 4 blocks from the office. Along my walking route from the garage to the office was a fruit and vegetable stand run by a kinf older gentleman. Everyday we would nod and/or wave hello to each other but we never spoke and I never made a purchase from his stand.

One day as I was crossing the street toward the block where his stand was located, he started walking toward the corner and said, "Hey, did I ever tell you about my wife's friend?"

I was thinking, "No, i've never spoken to you before!". So I smiled and saind, "No".

He continued, "Well, my wife and her friend went to lunch yesterday and as they were eating their spaghetti, her friend dropped dead. Yep, just like that, face first in a plate of spaghetti and meatballs!".

He just looked at me searching for a response. I was caught so off guard, all i could think to say was I was very sorry for his loss and his poor wife must be traumatized.

So screwy....we continued nodding to each other until the firm i worked for moved from downtown to the suburbs.

August 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine

Prooobably the lady who had been storing some furniture I needed to retrieve for a friend, who introduced me (unasked unasked - I was just there, in this complete stranger's house, with my muscles and a truck to pick up a desk and a dresser) to her daughter, the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION FROM VISHNU! Both she & her husband sat me down and told me all about their spiritual "path", their subsequent "celibacy", and - magic magic! - their surprise gift from Vishnu - a magically produced-without-any-man/woman-stuff daughter!!!

And then they tried to sell me something sort-of Amway like. Of. Course.

August 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrebekah

on a bus ride to denver, when i was 15, my seat-mate was a rough looking, yet handsome man who looked like he had really had a hard life. we began talking and then he started his long and drawn out story of his 2 tours of duty in vietnam....very detailed and easy to "see" stories. though i learned a lot from that 4 hour busride, i think i was a bit traumatized...i can honestly say that during my college years, i had a bit of a love affair with the vietnam war and read most anything i could find. i will never, ever forget what his eyes looked like...i wonder what happened to him.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdkuroiwa

Now I'm worried that I am that person...

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkcinnova

Some days I would be quite happy to be paid in earrings. One unsolicted piece of conversation from a stranger was at a Long John Silver's restaurant. I was 8 mos pregnant with my son, big as two bowling balls. This man in a wife-beater shirt approached me out of the blue and said "yep, you're having a boy." I was creeped out that this dingy man would be commenting on the contents of my uterus. And maybe even more creeped out that he was right.

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteryogurt

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