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  1. #1
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    Default Spin off from interacting with strangers thread- wwyd in this situation?

    OK, so I've been thinking a lot about the recent thread about interacting with strangers, making eye contact etc. I generally do smile at people and engage in small talk, and DD is a very social little girl so we get a fair bit of attention from old ladies which I'm happy to go along with. The last couple of days I've been making more of an effort to smile at everyone and it's really nice...but...I had an experience today which made me wonder where others draw the line.

    I was in the line at the supermarket with DD in the trolley, an older man (maybe in his 60s?) was smiling at her and asked me how old she was, etc. We had a bit of a chat and he told me about his grandchildren. After I'd paid I said goodbye, DD waved and we went to the car. As I'm returning the trolley I run into him again and he stopped me to thank me for chatting to him, he said he lives alone and gets lonely and has no one to talk to. I agreed that it was nice to talk to people and I was glad to brighten his day a little. I could tell he wanted to talk more but we were in the middle of the carpark in the sun, I was holding DD and really had to get going.

    As I was about to walk away he asked if we'd like to go have a coffee with him. I must admit I was taken aback by this and very politely declined, he thanked me for 'letting him down gently', but looked so sad as he walked away i actually feel quite bad about it now and wonder why my immediate reaction was to say no. I can kind of justify it in hindsight by saying my week's worth of shopping was in the hot car, and DD was tired and needed a feed (i'm confident bf in public and do it often but don't think I would want to sit with a strange man and bf), and although I was in a public place and he seemed harmless, my first priority is to keep my daughter safe, and you just never know with strangers. Honestly though I said no because I wasn't expecting such a request and frankly found it a bit strange.

    So what I was wondering was, would you have gone and had a coffee with him? What if it were an old woman asking, or you didn't have the kids with you? Where do you draw the line when it comes to being kind to others?

  2. #2
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    tbh .. no .. I probably wouldn't have had coffee with him - small chat is one thing - sitting and having a coffee is another.

    I guess.. if I knew him through church, or a social group - or even through REGULAR accidental chats at the shops - I would be more likely to say yes .. but once you sit to have a coffee .. you're kinda trapped to HAVE a constant conversation.

    I bet it took a lot of guts for him to approach him like that.. and I'm sure you do feel bad for saying no .. but it is what I would have done too .

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    that makes me so sad
    he understood though which was great. he seems like a lovely guy.

    just incredibly sad as where are his family? why doesnt he have visitors? why does he have to depend on strangers to brighten his day iykwim! gosh that breaks my heart

    and i think its harder with him being male. he cant go to the park and wander and chat with mums & kids or he'd look like he was out for the wrong reasons.

    so sad

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    I would have said no as well, I am a really polite, bright smiley person in public. Happy to have a chat with who ever is in line or at the checkout etc. I'm quite friend;y with a few differnet people who work in our shopping mall, I know about their kids they ask about mine but the truth is I am really not a people person and I prefer my own company I don't do coffee with friends let alone strangers. So whilst I would have felt really bad I would have declined no matter who was asking. For me this would definalty be crossing *my* line of whats ok and what I feel comfertable with.

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    Thanks ladies. I agree it is so sad that there are people in our society who are so lonely and isolated. I asked him about his family, he said he has grandchildren in the next suburb but they are busy and he rarely sees them I suppose I just feel bad because I could tell it took courage for him to ask about coffee, and I wonder if he will now be put off approaching others in the future. It's so hard to know what's the right thing to do.

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    Shanaynay  (05-04-2011)

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    Naaaaw poor old guy.

    In your situation, I wouldn't have had coffee with him, because as you said - tired baby, groceries etc...

    But without those things, I would have loved to say yes, no one has ever asked me to have coffee with them before

    I think it must be very hard for older people who are retired/don't work to find company

    There's a great organisation called "Mens Sheds" (or something) that provide a social meeting place for older men who just want a bit of friendship.
    http://www.mensheds.com.au/

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    phineas - I think we have one of those mens sheds type groups around our area

    My gran is the sort of person who would have gone for the coffee in a heartbeat, and has done before. She has a odd habbit of collecting people from around the place and be-freinding them. Mainly oldies from the shops, a homeless lady who pushes her shopping cart about etc. Funnily enough with us (family) she actually has really poor social skills. I find it really hard to continue a conversation with her without out it becoming alkward but I think she sees something in others that we might often miss

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    Don't feel bad hon. It sounds like you were lovely and polite to him.

    It is sad that he is lonely, but you did have a bub to think of. I wouldn't have had coffee with him in that situation.

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    I've got a real weak spot for lonely old men. I definitely think I'd have had the same reaction as you, and I would also have carried the guilt.

    Have you heard about the redcross volunteer program 'telecross'? It's where you call an elderly housebound person every day. It's really to make sure they're ok, but you end up having a good chat sometimes.

    Here's a link
    http://www.redcross.org.au/ourservic..._telecross.htm

    I'm sure another organization would have similar things also.
    My mum used to do this, and I've been meaning to put myself on the register for ages now. I think I'll do it tomorrow.


 

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