Man-us Interruptus

In the last three days, I’ve been interrupted twice while working in public areas: Once in a public library and once in a hotel lobby. I’ve been trying to understand why these people think they can pull me from my work.

Here are some similarities between the interrupters: male, asked me if I was studying for a class, asked me what I was writing about, brought the conversation around to whether or not I was in a relationship, both complimented my looks.

These interruptions bothered me. This is not to say that the men were harmful, but their audacity and distraction was annoying. In my attempt to work outside the hotel room, either because Richard was sleeping or I thought a library would encourage work, I was stopped.

To be honest, I did not shut either man down and tell them to leave me alone. For better or worse, and, yes, in this case it was worse, I am not good at public confrontation. While I feel it was rude of those men to interrupt me, I feel it would have been equally rude of me to tell them to leave me alone – at least, bluntly.

Now let me tell you a difference between these two men: the library man was 84. The hotel lobby man was somewhere in his early 20s.

Other than the obvious fashion discrepancies between a 20- and 80-year old man, they were remarkably similar.

But I can’t help notice that the main common denominator is me. Granted the n is 2, but twice in three days is enough to make me think that something is wrong here.

Perhaps I just happened to cross paths with two very gregarious males who like to elicit conversations with strangers. Maybe there is some unwritten code that a person working on a laptop isn’t really working, they are looking to have a social interaction. My friend lives in a neighborhood where carrying a book in public means you are looking to buy drugs. Therefore, this well-read friend of mine is often approached to have her assumed-narcotic-needs met.

Is it possible that I have accidentally stepped on a social rule that is known and practiced by 20- and 80-year-old men alike?

Or is it me? Do I give off a vibe of one who needs/desires/is sincerely hoping for a distraction, preferably by the next pair of XY chromosomes that walks past?

Or maybe this is a continuation of the same scenario I have experienced my whole life? I am an introvert. It is unusual for me to seek out public social interactions. I prefer to keep to myself. That said, I can be outgoing given the need or the right ingestible. But despite being a quiet person, I have often found myself in friendships with outgoing, talkative people.

They approach me. They talk. I listen. They talk more. And, friendship.

Growing up, these particular relationships were almost exclusively with other girls. Maybe, as I age, it’s the men who want someone to talk to while the women are busy with other things, like their careers and such.

But the other side of the coin may simply be that men look for social interactions with women to lead to sex. Maybe, for the 20-year-old male, breakfast – yes, it was breakfast on a Sunday – is the time when he prowls?

I have had many conversations with men in bars that were fun and entertaining, but ultimately ended abruptly upon the mention of my boyfriend. I guess it’s only worth engaging a woman in an interesting conversation about European politics and energy policy when there’s a possibility of getting into her pants.

While I find male-us interruptus annoying, I think there is a solution. I do believe it’s stupid that I should have to avoid a LIBRARY in order to get work done, maybe if I just put in earphones – sound regardless – or frequent another location on the one day of the work the 84-year-old man volunteers at the library, that could work.

The headphones would also work, I think, in the hotel lobby situation. Or I could try to find the nearest coffee shop. While that would mean investing in a drink, I have yet to be kept from work at a café, I think, because they are accepted places to work.

That, or I could nerve up and tell them to leave me alone…please.


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