My future, deflected


When Kris first met me, I was the fifth most cynical and the third most paranoid person he'd ever met. Why that man decided to date me, I'll never know, but his decision to do so certainly altered the world's future in a positive way.

Today, I met the woman I was destined to become, if Kris hadn't exerted his influence on me and my personality, if he hadn't shown me that the world can be a good place and, at a minimum, the world really doesn't care what I do for the most part. Ignoring the thought "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean the world isn't out to get you," for a moment, I can say yes, I'm less paranoid and less cynical, but some traits still show.

I was waiting at the train station, having missed the southbound train I wanted to be on, and the following one, due to a miscommunication about appointment times, when a elder woman came up to the enclosed space to ask if I were waiting for the 342. I asked if that was the train number, and she said no, it was the bus number, pointing to the bus stop 30 feet from the shelter. Ah, no, not what I was waiting for...

The woman was in at least her late sixties, possibly much older. I was busy working on my laptop, but closed it when it became apparent she wanted to talk. I often wonder if I should talk to the crazies, or ignore them like everyone else, but I'm trying to have an open mind, following the adage, "Everyone has something to teach." The woman on the other side of the bench clearly wanted me to just shoo away the old woman.

I ignored the other lady.

The old woman sat down and started telling me about how she had to take the bus now, since one of the cab drivers tried to sell he on a new kitchen, but really he was just out to fleece an old woman. When taking a taxi ride from the train station to her house, she had mentioned to a tax driver that she needed her kitchen redone. The taxi driver offered to help her out, "cheap!" and had come over to provide an estimate. Well, the old woman was uncomfortable when the contract she was asked to sign had very vague terms, "the contractor will work in a professional manner," and the taxi driver cum kitchen contractor needed 50% upfront. She completely freaked when she realized the "contractor's manual" the taxi driver used for the work estimates, the one he had brought with him, was still in the shrink wrap.

She threw him out.

She continued again with another story about how some guy tried to sell her a pine interior door for $300, intending to install it as an exterior door. She had done her research, by golly, and knew what kind of door, fir or birch only! she needed for her exterior door. When she asked to see the receipt for the door, and the contractor showed her one for $80, she refused delivery. That contractor just drove off.

During all of these stories, I was sitting there, nodding my head, agreeing with the woman, but offering not much other than slight encouragement for her to keep talking. She was heading off into a fantastical world where everyone was out to completely screw her over: get the most money for the least amount of work. Sounded like a world a lot bigger than just around her, to me.

After a while, after I nodded, and said, yes, I know what you mean, she turned to me and looked at me in the eyes for the first time and exclaimed, "You know! You know! How did you get so wise so young?"

Oh, crap, I thought. a direct question. Um, ah, er, "Well, if you're a woman, some people will take advantage of you."

"So it's not just seniors that are taken advantage of?" she asked, peering intently at me.

"Oh, no, not at all. Car mechanics assume you don't know anything about your car, and will charge you more if you're a woman than if you're a guy."

"Car mechanics!" she exclaimed! "They're the worst!" she continued, launching into another story about how she managed to just barely thwart the evil hordes of slackers out to get her money. Forty years she's lived in this area, they weren't going to get her money!

The woman's bus showed up, and she hopped up to go. I wished her a good day, as she announced if she wasn't at the bus stop, that exact place when the bus arrived, it would leave without her. Without her!

I chuckled as she left, pulled out my camera, took a couple pictures, then found my phone.

I called Kris and thanked him for saving me. Saving me from the woman walking away from me that was surely who I would have become in forty years, had he not saved me. Had he not deflected my cynical, paranoid personality to the realization that yes, the world can be good, and not everyone is out to get me.

"You're welcome," he said, "but you know, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean the world isn't out to get you."

Great. Thanks, Kris.