Monday, October 16, 2006

Awkward Situation #413

I've already talked enough about our weekend trip to Homer but I didn't mention one odd occurrence. On Sunday we decided to attend church at the local congregation--really get to know the locals and all that--and before church a 30-ish guy with a goatee and a noticeable lack of cowboys boots (it is a rural community so he stood out as rather citified) introduced himself and made small talk. He was friendly, trying to welcome our family and we were generally impressed.

After the services we were grabbing kids and stuffing them into coats when this same friendly guy approaches my husband. I'm listening from a distance as the man renews the conversation.

. . . "Well next time you're in town give me a call and I'll set you up with a place and hook you up with whatever you want to do--fishing, charters--here let me give you my number."

Andrew and I aren't always perfectly nice but we try, I read Miss Manners occasionally and am a firm believer in maintaining civility under any condition--just because someone's rude to me doesn't give me an excuse to snip back, etc. etc. blah blah blah. Also I'm not someone who feels comfortable imposing on people. If I'm on vacation I'd much rather stay in my own hotel than bunking out at a relative's house--not just for comfort's sake, but also because I dread being in their way or being an inconvenient house guest.

But I'm not swift on my feet in those situations and where some people would graciously say, "So very kind of you but we couldn't possibly, four children you know, but you're the greatest human on the planet just for thinking of us--" I freeze up and don't know what to say until five minutes later.

So . . . Andrew, caught in an surreal situation and just wanting to get on the road for the trip home comes up with the never-fail gem, "Uh, thanks, but I don't have a pen."

"Oh no problem, here's my number--" our new friend says as he pulls out a piece of paper and a pen and jots his name and number down for Andrew then hands it to him.

Andrew is about to escape (I'm still listening incognito in the background and wrestling with coats) when the man continues, "So where do you live?"

"Huh? Oh, south Anchorage--"

"Well what's your number and address?" as he pulls out another piece of paper, "This works both ways, you know, whenever we're in town can we stay with you? You got an extra room?"

Thank goodness Andrew was together enough to say (still trying to be nice), "Not really, we're pretty packed." And we are, a three bedroom house with four kids? But that didn't stop the guy from continuing.

"Well, what's your phone number and name?"

Never mind the fact that it's strange to ask to stay at someone's house before you even know their name, Andrew, never having been in such a spot before was tempted to pull out the Fake Phone Number (a la Seinfeld) but froze and couldn't bring himself to lie--he was in a church don't forget--and couldn't think of anything to say other than to give this man the requested information.

I wanted to do the slo-mo throwing-myself-in-front-of-the-bullet move but as I already mentioned I don't think well under social pressure and stood there speechless. I finished with the kids and we were soon on the road where Andrew repeatedly banged his head on the steering wheel for giving out our number.

If the guy is gutsy enough to ask to stay at a complete stranger's house he's gutsy enough to call us for a room. I'm all for feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless--Hurricane Katrina victims out there? Come on over!--but I'm not about to let a complete stranger into my house for the night, especially one who's obviously marching to a different social drummer than the rest of us, just because he doesn't want to pay for a hotel when he comes into town.

Twenty bucks says we get a call. So what would you have done? Once in the car I realized that I should have said, "Hey, that's great, just be sure and give us a call before you come up because we'll want to make sure we get the exterminator over to clean things up before you arrive."

I know if he calls I'll have enough backbone to nicely let him know that we're not Holiday Inn. Give me enough warning and a chance to think about it and I can say "No" politely but this is where caller I.D. would definitely come in handy. I wonder if we should just change our phone number? Oh, and any of you out there are in need of a place to stay on your next Alaskan vacation, here's our number: (907) 248-8848.

38 comments:

Annie said...

What a riot!! 'Course that's only because it didn't happen to ME! And I'm guessing that isn't really your home phone number...??

What ARE we human beings like that in situations that are so uncomfortable? I think it's partly because we are not listenning to our inner-voice of reason. We tend to not want to 'offend' anyone. Your poor husband...Bet he'll react better if that ever happens again! :-) I'm betting the guy never calls.

Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

Me? Fake number. Regardless of churchly situation. Done it before, would do it again. Tip: even if you're lulled into starting to give the real thing, most phone numbers are given with a pause somewhere in the middle and THAT is when you can slip in the wrong 'un.

Think of it as doing a kindness - mostly to you, of course, but also a little to the moron who thinks it's ok to shift into the home of someone they've known for less time than it takes to bake cookies!

(Can't take the $20 bet - I reckon he will call one day!)

Anonymous said...

Now I know who to call when I'm in Alaska! Woohoo! :p

cheated are the clouds said...

This is way to funny, what a predeiciment to be in, I would have given the local homeless shelter number, hey it's a fine hair to split , your not really lying, it is a good number, and maybe he would be more comfortable there, I'm sure he would never come to your home town again, this is good

Jenny said...

I would totally have lied and said we didn't have a phone. Actually I would have said that no one in Alaska has a phone. Too cold.

I'm sure he would have bought that one.

Susan said...

I'm not sure what I would have done. Probably the whole 867-5309 type thing. (You know...the song..) I freeze up in those types of situations as well!

I don't think he'll ever call though. If he does, you'll have to tell us!

Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amaze me what some people will say. And I would have just stood there, dumbfounded.

But I'm totally calling you if I ever get to Alaska. ;)

Leslie said...

Wow, that is an awkward situation. I'm not sure what I would have done.

Oh, and this: "I wanted to do the slo-mo throwing-myself-in-front-of-the-bullet move.." So funny! Love your blog.

Sudiegirl said...

Oh. My. God.

That's terrible manners on the traveler's part. Really.

You really did the right thing by easing yourselves out of that situtation. He could've been an axe murderer for all we know.

Great looking blog, BTW...I'm on Blogger Chicks just like you, so that's where I learned about you and this Alaska blog.

BTW, what's a scribbit?

Blondie said...

Yowza--that is horrifying. But I live in Chicago, where complete strangers often ask me for money, cigarettes, booze, directions, bus fare, a ride, my first born, etc. I've got enough bitch in me because of this to say, "I don't give out my personal information to strangers." If I was still living in Iowa, however, the guy probably would have moved in by now... :)

ali said...

i have serious issues saying no. to anyone. and i'm so not quick enough to give a phony phone number.

so, i hear ya!

Prahagirl said...

I would have given him this number 248-262-6861...I blogged about it in march of 05. I find it hilarious!

And then, when he has waited the appropriate number of days, he calls and gets a recorded message that begins ..."Hello. This is not the person you were trying to call. You've reached the Rejection Hotline ... the person who gave you this number did not want you to have their real number."The message goes on to ponder the possible reasons you were rejected, and then encourages you to "please take the hint" and "get over it."

gail said...

So funny, I don't think quick enough either to know what to do. But I would have been tempted to give a different number!

HeatherJ said...

Those are the kind of guys that always used to try and pick on me. I was always nice but I did give fake numbers or some lame excuse as to why I wouldn't tell them where I lived. I sometimes wonder if these people have mothers, and if so what have they been teaching them?

Anonymous said...

That is totally messed up. I don't know what I would have done in that situation. I'd like to think that I'd come up with some really good reason why I couldn't give out the number but he would probably have it and be waiting on my doorstop when I return.

And you are correct on being full. We just upgraded to the three bedroom and we only have three kids. Before that all three kids shared a small bedroom. We always offered friends to stay with us but no one wanted to.

Jane said...

Some people have a lot of nerve. We actually had a lady assume she was invited to my son/DIL wedding party at our house! She was told that was not the case, since she did not receive an invitation.
Our son married a Venezuelan girl. Where is your sister's husband from? It's a small world, isn't it?
BTW....I called your number and you didn't answer...what's up with that???
LOLOLOL!

FRIDAY'S CHILD said...

I can understand how Andrew felt that day. He was sorry for what he has just done but couldnt do anything. He was caught up in a corner. I would feel the same way too about the stranger.
Thanks for sharing.

mothergoosemouse said...

I have no idea whether I'd have been together enough to tell the truth - as politely as possible - and not give/accept contact info. I think you handled it as best you could, given the circumstances.

J said...

It's so hard to be polite when someone is so clearly overstepping their boundaries...if only becomes the mantra of the day....if only I had started by saying, 'thank you so much for the invitation, but we prefer to stay in a hotel', or something like that. Of course, I've smashed my head into the steering wheel in self disgust far too many times to pretend superiority.

Alaska is special, too, because (at least when I lived there) it was so many small towns, and everyone kinda did pretend like they knew each other...

Anonymous said...

I'm like you... I would have been totally caught off guard, and been in utter shock.

Wow!

I too think of clever things to say... AFTER THE FACT!

girlymama said...

humm.

there's friendly and then there's wierd.

that was wierd.

Susan said...

omg Michelle - that's totally me - I bet you're right about his calling... also I can relate to its being easier to think of a polite out on the phone with a bit of warning than there in the church. people are so wacky! (people who feel weird when backed against a wall as well as those who have -um- less-finely-tuned social antennae than us, nyernt nyernt :) of course when/if he calls you'll have to fill us all in!

kailani said...

I don't think I'd have the guts to flat out say NO! He may be psycho! I would have just given him a fake name and number. Not nice, I know.

nonlineargirl said...

That is really pushy. It is so hard to stand up in a situation like that. It would make me not want to go back to Homer.

Weird.

Anonymous said...

That is hilarious with a capital H!!!

I can totally sympathize, as this stuff has happened to us FAR too many times. A few months ago, my husband had to call the local Mormon church because I couldn't bring myself to tell them I didn't want a home visit (I agreed to meet the missionaries the following Tuesday).

I thought it was just a "Minnesota" nice thing...are you sure you're not from here?

Waya said...

That was awkward alright! This reminds me of 9 years ago on a flight to Maui for our honeymoon, my hubbie struck up a conversation with this guy and he said "call me if you want a tour of the island" blah blah blah. I told my hubbie that he could be a weirdo or something. Last day of our stay, I read about him in the local paper...apparently, he's a big developer on the island. So, guess what we did? We called him of course and had dinner with him and his wife. Really nice guy.

So, this guy might turn out to be some wealthy man who has no family of his own and wants to adopt you and your family?! Just thinking.

Haley-O said...

Ooo...I'm supposed to go to Alaska next summer. Hmmm...

J Fife said...

These types of situations break me. By the end of the conversation, I would have probably agreed to a Kato Kaelin situation. (Note to self: grow a backbone.)

Anonymous said...

Not sure what I would do in that situation, but if he does call, I would play dumb. If it's a voice you don't recognize, say there is no one there by that name.

Wrong number. Sorry, dude.

Still a very strange situation that happened to your family.

Christine said...

OMG! How very strange. I'm not sure what I would have done. That would definitely throw me off guard.

Mommy off the Record said...

That is so weird that he would be that forward! I would do what you're suggesting and if he calls, just politely tell him that you don't have room. Maybe you can come up with an excuse like you already have friends staying with you that weekend or something. It would be a lie, but at least you wouldn't be in Church.

Betty said...

What I find scary in this experience is that your husband didn't protect his family! That sounds harsh, but it's exactly what he did. He gave out personal information to a total stranger simply because he didn't know how to say no. That is the scary part to me.

mom2werogers said...

Oh I do the same freezing up too in those situations! I'm normally NOT at a loss for words, but in those times, I'm just a staring idiot. What a rude jerk that new friend was. How bizarre. How bizarre.

suki said...

I would've thanked him for the offer, taken the # and name, and would never have called back even if visiting... If I was to run into him again and if he asked why I hadn't called, then I'd have mentioned having everyone with me, inconvenience, etc. etc.

As for the reciprocity, I would've told him about there not being a spare room, BUT to give a call if he was in town to go have lunch or something random...

WEIRD though.

Colleen Gleason said...

Oh geez!

I'd have done a fake number too. My husband isn't as quick in social situations as I am, so I would have butted right in and given the guy a look and said...oh, well, maybe I wouldn't have been able to think of something to say in the face of such presumption.

I'm totally with you.

But the fake number thing would have been good.

Good luck. Let us know when you get the call!

Erin said...

That is completely bizarre. Here's hoping he loses that number. Sometimes I accidentally give the wrong number to people I *want* to call me (I have a hard time remembering my own cell number), so giving a fake number would have been no problem. At the cash register? When they ask for my phone number or zip code? It's second nature to me to just make one up. I'm completely dishonest that way.

Ballpoint Wren said...

Your hubby is too nice—I used to be like that. Now I just lie and give out fake numbers! (Heh! I looked up the number you gave out--you need to memorize it for the next time!)

I recommend screening all phone calls from now on!

Melissa said...

You know he's going to call. Change your number now! Of course, then next time you go vacationing, he'll ask why he couldn't get through to you, but still. Change the number!