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.”
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?
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.