Mostly I try to treat the crazies as I want to be treated, because you know there is SOMEONE out there that has ME on their crazies list.
But sometimes, there is nothing you can do to evade the crazy except avoid eye contact and keep walking. And Saturday was one of those times.
As I was walking across the street with some friends, I noticed three people walking on the sidewalk to my left. As I stepped onto the sidewalk, I would walk in front of them, so I found myself mentally calculating whether or not I could politely step in front of them or whether I would be forced to stand on the street until they walked by. I think about such things.
One of the men was shirtless, carrying a can of something-or-other, and agitated. (One learns to recognize agitation in others when one works with the public.) The other two people, a man and a woman, were walking slightly behind Shirtless Guy. They appeared to be TOGETHER, as they were holding hands. The guy was carrying a messenger bag which may or may not have been the woman's purse.
They were unremarkable, the kind of people you see on the sidewalk anywhere in Indiana (and probably the world).
Shirtless Guy noticed us first, and began to shout at us.
"THIS GUY IS GAY!" He howled across the street. "HE KEEPS FOLLOWING ME, AND HE IS CARRYING A WOMAN'S PURSE. HE'S GAY!!!!"
During this, Man-with-Bag and Hand-Holding Girl seemed unaffected, as if they did not care about whatever Shirtless Guy had to say. Neither of them seemed afraid of Shirtless Guy or as if they cared two straws about his accusations.
We kept walking. As we were about to step into our cars, Shirtless Guy screamed at us again.
"HE'S GAY!!!! ISN'T SOMEONE GONNA DO SOMETHING??? GET YER PHONES AND DIAL 911!!! HE'S GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Now, that was when I was sorely tempted to turn around and yell back, for several reasons:
- Carrying a messenger bag is not an indicator of one's sexuality, even if the bag in question belongs to a girl.
- Walking in the same direction as another man does not qualify a man as a stalker. Nor is it a crime to walk down the street behind another person.
- Why were we supposed to call 911? It is not illegal to be gay. The police were not going to come and arrest Man-With-Bag on suspicion of gay-ness. This is not Nazi Germany.
But, as I mentioned, the couple did not care. It was as if Shirtless Guy was screaming about the news of the day, about the appearance of a blue sedan, or even that the sky was in possession of several clouds. So I got in my car and surreptitiously watched the trio continue down the street in case Shirtless Man attempted anything else. When nothing happened, I went home.
And that is what an average day looks like for me.