Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stuck in a bus with a weirdo

A few days ago Nico came with me to a party at our yacht club. He went for a stroll around the club while I chatted with my kiter friends. Then I realized Nico was back in the room having what looked like a very engaging conversation with an adult I didn't recognize. I imagined the adult was a windsurfer or some other club member, and thought that it was cool that he was so engaged with Nico. They were just a few meters from me but I couldn't hear what the were saying. I figured I would leave them alone and kept chatting with my friends. Ten minutes or so later Nico came by and asked if we could leave. It was getting late so I agreed.

As soon as we left the club Nico told me the guy he was talking with was crazy, drunk or both. He was talking to Nico about Satan, Nazi cruelty and all sorts of inappropriate things. I was stunned. They had been just a few meters from me, in the safety of our yacht club! I asked Nico why he didn't leave. Nico found himself in an uncomfortable situation. He knew the conversation was inappropriate yet he was somewhat paralyzed. Didn't know what to do, so did nothing. Just let the guy keep talking while nodding.

I spoke with the boys about the importance of stopping situations like this one. There is no need to be rude, confrontational or to make a scene. A simple "excuse me but I have to go" usually works - particularly when your father is a few meters away. Other situations are more challenging: imagine being in a crowded bus with someone right next to you saying inappropriate things. You could try saying that you have to do something, then focus on your phone or a book. If you can, you could move to a different part of the bus. The less you say the better. Be polite but firm, then disengage. Worst case, get off the bus and catch the next one. 

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