Thursday, October 19, 2006

When Will I "Get Good" at this Stuff?

And by stuff, I mean rejecting men that I have absolutely no interest in whatsover without having to think about it.

Yesterday was a really stressful day at work, so I cancelled my lunch plans and opted to grab pizza at "the Soup Kitchen" while I revised a release agreement. Mr. Regular was there, and we exchanged hellos. Mr. Regular must eat at the Soup Kitchen a lot because I eat there on average twice a week, and he's almost always there when I stop by. A few weeks ago he introduced himself and a coworker to me since we see each other so frequently. They work at the same hospital a few of my friends work at, so we chatted briefly about that. Like I've said, I like the familiarity and community feeling in Macon, so it's nice that people are so friendly. I didn't think anything of the introduction, assuming Mr. Regular was married with a couple of kids (I'm not good about looking for wedding bands though). Since then we've smiled and said hello, but that's it. Note: Mr. Regular is a little shorter than me, overweight, and appears to be my father's age (55), although it's possible that he a little younger.

As I walked back to the office I was deep in thought and actually walking and revising at the same time when Mr. Regular crosses the street, speaking to me as he does so. I thought it was odd since Mr. Regular was coming from the opposite direction of both the hospital and the Soup Kitchen; he had apparently taken a stroll around the block near my office.

"Hey, we should grab lunch tomorrow."

"What?" I reply.

"Let's grab lunch tomorrow."

"Um I already have plans," I respond.

"We can go to Tokyo Alley," he says.

"Um, well I don't eat there, and I already have plans."

"Well, it'll be on me though," he replies.

"Well I don't care if it's free or not, I don't eat at Tokyo Alley. It smells bad [like a nursing home]." I say, feeling irritated and wondering what in the world is going on. Seriously. At first thought, I figured he just thought since we each ate lunch together today, we could eat together sometime. While I love to eat lunch alone and often intentionally do so (by sneaking out before someone can ask me to join them), I realize some people don't enjoy solitude. At this point, I'm really taken off guard. I have a million work things swimming through my head and am shocked that Mr. Regular, a virtual stranger, and I are having this ridiculous conversation.

"Well how about another day?" he asks.

"Well I'm slammed this week, sorry." I reply.

"Oh, well we can do it another time. How can I get in touch with you?"

Argh. "I don't have any of my cards with me, sorry."

Mr. Regular pulls out his cell phone to add my number to it. Not knowing what to say, I give him my office phone number (where we don't even have caller id).

I am so stupid, but I had no idea what to say. I was so taken off guard by the whole thing that I just gave it to him. Yuck. Then he tells me that he'll give me a call.

This whole thing makes me angry because now it's going to be weird at the Soup Kitchen (it's tiny) b/c of this, so I guess I'll just lunch later. This may sound terrible, but what is this man thinking? He's several decades older than me, not in good shape, and clearly trying to run into me on the street so he can ask me out. Anyway, who cares what he thinks, but what should I say when he calls?

I have such a hard time with stuff like this that I have to write it down and keep it by the phone to keep from just giving in and going out. My best thought so far is:

"You really caught me off guard the other day when you asked for my number. I don't usually give my number to people that I don't know, and while I appreciate the lunch offer, I've got a lot on my plate right now and will have to pass."

Any better (or different) ideas? This is the kind of stuff that makes me want to quit being friendly!


kimberly said...

"I really am not looking for people to have lunch with." if that doesn't work, "I appreciate the small talk at the Soup Kitchen, but I'm not interested in anything more than that."
who am I kidding I can never say that stuff either. I would just try to be like oops, I got a beep, I better go. Oops, I'm busy again, blah blah blah...Painful. I would prefer to grow a spine and say the former and avoid wasting everybody's time.

spam_price said...

"As much as I appreciate the very kind and generous offer, I'm just not interested. In fact, I apologize for giving you my number and leading you on like that. Your next Soup Kitchen meal is on me."

If that doesn't work, you can always just scream and run-a-way. Then the next time you see him, scream, kick him and then run-a-way. Just be sure not to run-a-way and then kick him because you'll just look silly otherwise.

Flat Coke and Flies said...

I have a hard time with this stuff too. I'm not one to say "no" easily. I give in, I feel sorry, SOMETHING always happens and I end up in weird situations. I think your response and the 2 above are great. Good luck with Mr. Regular. Keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

I think your response is perfect. If he doesn't take the hint from that then you can feel free to be more direct. I would avoid buying him lunch. You don't owe him anything and it could come across as a mixed signal.

I think the next time that you see him a friendly 'Hello' will suffice. And then maybe sit a little further away from him.

Man tip of the day: Guys always think there is a chance. That's why you have to be very clear that there's NO chance.

Lost said...

I agree with your response. I think it's direct and to the point. GLboy has got good advice.

I had this experience not to long ago from a cab driver who made me give him my phone number (I also gave him my work number) and then he called it while I was in the cab to see if it worked!

Freak! He called and left me a few vmails and eventually he stopped.

Guys are weird like that, that they think there is always a chance (as Greenline Boy wrote)

Ally said...

Kimberly: I'm really working on the spine and slowly getting better at all of this, although it's still way harder than it should be for me.

Jeff: I like the scream and run-away option best. I don't think I'm going to apologize or offer to buy his lunch because I feel like he kind of invaded my space so to speak. While I want to be nice in how I respond, I hope he'll learn from this experience that it's not appropriate to stop someone on the street to ambush them for their number. I like the first sentence of your hypothetical response though and am putting it beside my phone!

FC&F: I'll definitely keep you posted, and this time I am saying "no." Well I plan to anyway....

Greenlineboy: Excellent advice. I definitely need to be clearer; us girls just hate hurting people's feelings though.

Lost: Guys are weird, and while it seems crazy that you gave your number to the cab driver, you did exactly what I did. It's so hard when someone catches you off guard like that with such an inappropriate question. Oh well, at least the cabbie stopped calling.

Shannon said...

My approach would be to avoid him (as in avoiding eye contact, don't go near him, etc) but that's because I'm a wimp.

It sucks that he couldn't take a hint when you were clearly not interested based on your responses to him.

If he approaches you again, I think that last line in your post says it all.

cdp said...

I'm so glad to know I'm not the only person with this problem. I've never understood why I am so hesitate to blow someone off because I'm scared they'll think I'm a bitch when really, if I'm blowing someone off, I don't honestly care if they think I'm a bitch. Something about hurting people's feelings, I just can't seem to do it. I hate to admit it, Ally, but I am also kind of glad that it's not just me who gets strangely approached by random weirdos like this.

I think your response is good and the above advice is as well. Good luck! I will be thinking of you and your situation with Mr. Regular.

Also - random information: I used to eat lunch at the soup kitchen with an old coworker, and she called it "Cheap Ass Pizza." Good to know it has other appropriate nicknames. Given the extent to which I am a total wimp about these sorts of things, what I'd probably do is never go back there again. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

I had an entire response typed out and when I hit "send".. it said "error, timed out".. grrr!!!

I have the same issue Ally, so it would be useless to give you advice since I'm not sure how to handle it either. I think the common denominator in this situation is that we're too nice/friendly. I don't see that changing anytime soon though, so perhaps I'll always have this problem.
How men think:
Friendly smiling girl = she wants me.
*shrug*.. whatdoyado?
GLB posted about this on his blog, using your blog as a preface..
I commented on his blog about what I did yesterday to avoid someone.. too long to post right now, but go over there and read mine!

Anonymous said...

Spam Price and Kimberly's have it right. Also Greenlineboy hit nail on the head."Nothing ventured , Nothing Gained" is evidently his phlilosophy. I would tell him that you found out that you weren't supposed to give business phone out and ask if you can have it back. As rediculous as it sounds it will probably work with a man of his intelligence. As a last resort tell him your boyfriend would like to me him. SGH) Tell dude you would like to forget about that incident on street and you would like to continue to eat at the Soup Kitchen but only if things can be as they were, otherwise make it a point to always sit in a way that you are not directly facing him. If this doesn't work I will send you one of my business cards and you may feel free to refer him to me for a "session". Dr. Ridge

Anonymous said...

Gross! I had a similar problem with the doorman of my office building. He actually asked our receptionist if I was single because he wanted to ask me out. It got to the point that I started to wear my grandma's wedding ring and pretend to be on my blackberry every time I walked by him. That was the only way I could avoid eye contact or talking to him.

icadle said...

I was thinking a restraining order might be appropriate. Restraining him from 1) contacting you, and 2) eating at the soup kitchen during your predetermined time.

Or you could always avoid him, but i think he's in the wrong on this one.

Ally said...

Shannon: It always sucks when guys can't take hints. I'm constantly amazed though by how differently people interpet events though, so I guess it shouldnn't be surprising.

Cindy: The people at work (who all have the benefit of wedding bands) thing I'm such an anomaly because these kinds of situations happen to me a good bit, so I'm glad not to be alone! I refuse to give up the Soup Kitchen or CAP because of this one--I like it too much!

Jordan: I've been told that in Mexican culture that a female making eye contact with a man = sexual come-on. I guess men just like to feel desired--even if it's a complete figment of their imagination.

Dr. RJJ: I'll definitely be sitting as far as away from him as possible and facing the other way. Hopefully by eating later I'll avoid him.

Ella: I can totally understand the ring trick. I had so much trouble when I worked as an interpreter (for Hispanics) that I vowed to get a band if I ever did that kind of work again.

Ivy: I agree!

Aaron said...

Yes! There *IS* hope.

In 13 years and 50lbs, I'll be able to wield my annoying presence onto unsuspecting younger women thereby forcing a telephone number out of them.


What ever happened to, "I'm not interested."

Stop making excuses. Say what you mean and mean what you say.