Tag Archives: stranger’s day

Lame Adventure 222: The Rejection of Strangers

Strangers entering and exiting the 72nd Street Subway station on Stranger's Day.

If you happened to read Lame Adventure 221, you’re aware that this past Wednesday was the inaugural Stranger’s Day celebration, and I embraced this brand new commemoration with a degree of gusto more commonly reserved for participating in a holy war.  It never occurred to me that while holding a Stranger’s Day greeting card in my paw and politely asking fellow subway riders if they are familiar with The New Yorker, the cartoonist Roz Chast, or if they’d now like a Stranger’s Day card, some would look at me like I was harassing them.  The thought bubble above my head said one word:

My thought bubble:  Yikes!

One woman in her early thirties seemed petrified, so much so that she scared me.  I discussed her with my sidekick, Greg.

Me:  What do you think that was about?

Greg pondered the question.

Greg:  Could she have suffered a flashback to a time when she was brutally raped by a woman that looks just like you, dresses just like you, and was holding a weapon that looked just like a greeting card?

Of the five people I found the nerve to approach on the subway train, three rejected me – the aforementioned woman that literally ran, another woman who looked at me as if I had grown a second head, but the Wall Street businessman in the pink power tie was gracious.  He simply said, “No thanks.”

Of the two people that listened to my pitch and accepted cards, one was a woman around my age (over 40 under death), and a guy in Greg’s 18-34 demographic.  She seemed charmed by the idea and he said, “Thank you.”

Personalized Stranger's Day greeting card note or rantings of a mad woman?

I arrived at work dragging my feet for I was still carrying one card that now seemed as heavy as a boulder.  I conferred with Milton about strategy in an email exchange.

Me: Wow, giving three Stranger’s Day cards out on the commute in is much easier said than done.  Plus I didn’t see anyone reading The New Yorker this morning.  Joy.  Maybe everyone is boycotting it because they’re so horrified by Stranger’s Day?

Milton (donning his Mr. Succinct chapeau): On the subway, people are on their guard for criminals.

We decided I should hand out the last card at Starbuck’s.  I selected the one in the Barnes and Noble at Warren and Greenwich Streets in TriBeCa, primarily because everyone in there is reading so I was confident that whoever I focused on also knows how to write.  I zeroed in on a guy around Greg’s age scrolling through Craigslist postings on a MacBook.  He did not seem scary at all, nor was he and he did not seem to mind accepting that third card.  I left thinking:

Me:  Okay, he’s sitting at a computer in a place with WiFi.  He was willing to accept the card.  I can’t expect any more from him than if he asked me to write his comment on my site for him myself.  Hm, should I have suggested that?

What I have concluded from this experience is that Stranger’s Day is rather strange indeed since it appears that 99.9% of the populace has no idea what it is and they’d prefer not to know more about it.  A more appropriate name to some might be if it were called, “Don’t Approach Me Day.”   Yet, if I had to do it all over again, would I?

Hell no!

Hey, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.  I might be a bit off my rocker, but I’m definitely not a candidate for a strait jacket … yet.  Still, it was worth trying once, but now I’ll gladly hand the Stranger’s Day baton back to its creator, Roz Chast … hopefully she’ll accept that from me.

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Lame Adventure 221: Will You Be My Stranger?

It is August 24th and here it is, the inaugural Stranger’s Day!  This is a brand new holiday first announced on page 73 of the August 15 & 22, 2011 issue of The New Yorker by Roz Chast, the hilarious cartoonist with her inking pen on the pulse of the world.  She’s the mastermind behind Crankster.  (Confidential to Mark Zuckerberg: watch out.)  Stranger’s Day is Roz’s next phenomenon in the making, and I’m determined to do my part to make it very strange indeed.  You ask:

You:  What the hell is Stranger’s Day?

According to Roz, this is the holiday where we acknowledge the billions of random Joes and Joettes out there that we don’t know, don’t care about, that neither know nor care about us!  What symmetry!  What simplicity!  What a middle finger to the oozing sap that’s Valentine’s Day!

As a resounding social networking clod, Stranger’s Day is definitely my kind of holiday.  Last week when I received the Laughter Lovers e-blast from Blake Eskin of The New Yorker (filling in for Bob Mankoff) announcing that Roz had made Stranger’s Day greeting cards available through Café Press for $23.99 for a pack of 20 (bargain rate of $1.1995 per card) or $2.99 each, I thought:

Me:  Sign me up!

Then, I noticed that shipping these cards in time for Stranger’s Day would set me back $31. I next thought:

Me:  Screw that!

Then, I resumed crunching numbers at my desk and fighting a coma until a light bulb blew out over my head.  It dawned on me that maybe the kindred needy spirits of Café Press would cut me a break on shipping if I praised them all out of proportion on my blog.  I phoned Café Press’s call center in Mississippi and I got through to Synetra the Wonderful.  Following is an edited version of our exchange.

Synetra:  Café Press.  This is Synetra.

Me:  Hi, are you familiar with the Stranger’s Day cards on your web site?

Synetra:  No ma’am.

Me:  Are you familiar with the cartoonist Roz Chast?

Synetra:  No ma’am.

Me:  Are you familiar with The New Yorker magazine?  It’s been around since 1925, it remains very popular and it’s still profitable.

[Editorial comment: okay maybe there was some leading the witness there.]

Synetra:  I think I’ve heard of them, ma’am.

Omitted: ten minutes of back and forth exchange primarily filled with nine minutes of shameless begging from me for three single cards at a radically reduced shipping rate.  Fast forward to the conclusion of the conversation:

Synetra:  When your order ships, the $31 in shipping charges will be deleted, ma’am.

Café Press and Synetra the Wonderful, you rock!

The cards arrived on Monday and as I held them in my sweaty little paw, I was overcome with nausea.  Hey, I now have to exit my comfort zone and select three strangers to be my stranger.  <gulp>  Who will I select?  My criteria:

  1. Someone that does not look like they’re carrying a concealed weapon.
  1. Someone that does not look like they’ll yell at me or beat me up.
  1. Someone that smells good or is unscented.
  1. Someone that is not wearing a tee shirt with the caption, “I’m not hung over but my mouth tastes like a brewery.”
  1. Someone that looks like they know how to read (preferably The New Yorker).
  1. And of course, someone I don’t know that doesn’t know me that I’ll never see again.

If you were one of my three strangers, how strange was this?  If you take the time to comment here, remember to mention your code word so I know that you are you and not someone that thinks they can punk me.  If I threw up a little when I handed you your card, I hope it was not on your attire, and I apologize profusely.

Will any of these chosen Strangers respond?