I've never been someone who can make with the charm or social shmooveness. Even when I'm downright comfortable with someone, I still make comments and faces that - I've been told - would be taken incredibly badly had these people not known me well. You can only imagine then how I react when total strangers approach me.
Maybe I've watched too much Law And Order, Cold Case Files, American Justice and City Confidential. Combine that with the ability of my mother to have scared the crap out of me when I was young (no, not abuse, the kind of scare that keeps kids safe...."don't talk to strangers" kind), and you've got one incredibly incapable lady when faced with total strangers.
Unless hiding behind a legal pad is considered a proper interpesonal reaction when meeting someone.
I'm at the office, having just finished lunch. I'm at my desk reading e-mails and responding accordingly when I hear my name boom from behind me. There's a conference room back there and a few offices. People are going to and from there all day long. I've been able to block most of it.
I turn around to see this giant cowboy coming towards me. Well, ok. I guess he's not really a cowboy but he has to be at least 6' and he had on a huge black cowboy hat. I'm trying to process how this big person knows my name, why he's back here in the part of the office people don't just wander to unless they know about it, and if I should "RUN AWAYRUNAWAY" like I generally want to do when confronted by large cowboy hat wearing strangers.
He starts taunting me. "Don't you know who I am?" I said "nnNNnooooo, but now I'm scared." And that's when I reached for a legal pad as protection. It wasn't even legal sized. 81/2 x 11, and white. I should have gotten one of those "legal sized" ones that are yellow if I was going to get maximum protection.
He finally says "Don't you recognize my voice from the telephone?" and even though I really didn't, I took a stab at the only group of people that I talk to on the phone that know my name, where I work and in what capacity. I blurted out "Are you Name Omitted?" He came sprinting towards me to give me a HUGE hug.
I had guessed right. He was one of the investigators we contract with to locate items concerning our files. His office is in another state at least 2,000 miles away - so it's not surprising that I didn't expect him to be in my office. ever.
I told him "We get a lot of crazy around here. I never know if someone is looking for guidance to the elevators, bathrooms or kitchen....or if they are here to take out their anger on any fool willing to turn around when their name is called. (We have plaques on our stations that have our names engraved on them for easy reference.) It doesn't take much for me to respond to my name, so I try to evaluate whether I need to duck/run/call security pretty quickly."
Don't make me get my legal pad.