Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Trying Not To Be Paranoid

After living four-hundred miles away from here for fifteen years, I am still adjusting to this urban atmosphere. After so many years in a friendly, rural area much farther north with cool lake breezes, I am trying to re-adjust to the hot and humid weather here each day.

Today I stopped by the local (air conditioned) library for some reading material. I selected a variety of books, then sat down with them at a table to decide which ones I wanted to take home and read.

A woman sat down across from me with several books, although there were lots of empty tables surrounding us. She was probably ten years younger than me. "Do you mind if I sit here?" she asked. It seemed only polite for me to say "Of course not." although I still couldn't understand why my table was so appealing.

I began to look through my books, separating fiction and non-fiction, I like to read both and wanted to be sure to check out some of each.

"Excuse me," the woman said. "I just have to show you the pictures of my friends beautiful table. She is so talented, look how she folded each napkin." She passes me a digital camera. I dutifully look at the screen. It was a nice setting, and I started to think maybe she is trying to drum up business for her friend as a Party Planner or something. I wasn't dressed up or wearing makeup, and this area is certainly not a wealthy one. I couldn't help but think she needed to find a better location if that was her plan.

"Very nice," I said handing her back the camera. "She seems quite talented."
A few moments later she interrupted again. "I'm sorry," she said. I just had to show you her beautiful flowers too. Look at these lovely blossoms decorating her deck."

Trying to remain polite, I took the camera again. "Very lovely," I said. "It looks like she has a green thumb". Suddenly this woman is showing me picture after picture of these flowers around her friends apartment, then her apartment. Each time she clicked to a new picture the camera beeped. Another lady a few tables away began to give us dirty looks. I was frustrated too. I just wanted to pick out some books and leave. My purse was on the floor firmly under my feet, so I didn't think she was trying to distract me that way. I couldn't think of a nice way to ask her to leave me alone, I just kept picking up books and trying to look at them every chance I had.

Finally she said "Oh, I've bothered you enough, I am sorry." and I just smiled and kept looking at the book, already planning my getaway. As I stood up and began gathering my selected pile, she interrupted again.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I just wanted to show you one more picture of how I decorated my apartment. You can see it much better on this screen." Now, instead of a camera, she hands me a Blackberry. It is a perfectly nice picture of a perfectly nice apartment. Nothing extremely unusual about it at all. "Oh, very nice," I said. "Thanks for showing me. I have to go now." I gathered my books and left.

On the way home I continued to puzzle over the whole situation. Then a paranoid thought hit me--what if the camera and Blackberry were stolen and she wanted my fingerprints on them? It sounds absurd, yet nothing about the encounter made any sense. Maybe I've just been away too long.

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