That was how my conversation started at the bus stop tonight. I was listening to my music, deciding what I thought about the date I was on the way home from, and then this young guy walked up and asked if he could ask me something.
“I need some advice.”
I’m pretty used to strangers talking to me on the street because I am one of those people to whom it happens all the time. My chatty strangers don’t usually ask me for advice, however.
“She’ll let me stay at her place,” he explained, “but only to help with the rent and taking care of my kid. But I don’t know. I think she’s still seeing other dudes. What you think I should do?”
Seriously. You would ask a stranger this question? But if you would turn to a random stranger, you must be so desperate, so at the end of your rope, how could I not try to talk to you if you asked me this question? But I have nothing to go on. My first response was to laugh — because he started so in the middle of things with that unidentified “she” not just because of the total absurdity of the situation — but I held that in check.
“I have no idea. [insert pause for my brain to scramble for something to say] Maybe think about what it would mean for your kid to have you there in the house?”
Oh, he’d thought about that. His daughter had apparently told him how much she wanted him there and was looking forward to him picking her up from school. Which made sense. That question was really more of a stall because of course the issue wasn’t the kid but the ex-girlfriend.
I didn’t want to give him advice. Never mind the fact that I have the known world’s worst relationship experience. He just shouldn’t have been talking to me, a complete stranger!
But he looked so sad and confused …
“Maybe you should think about how you’ll feel living there and seeing her date other men. I mean, are you hoping the two of you will get back together?”
“I thought we could, you know? I think I’ve been fooling myself.”
I told him it was a really hard decision and how much I didn’t envy him. He stood there for a long few minutes, saying nothing, just staring at the ground. I couldn’t tell if the conversation was over or if he was going to ask another question … or maybe smack me for having so much nothing to offer him. Finally he just shook his head.
“Thanks for listening,” he said and walked away.
What do I do with that? How can it be that the only person he could find to talk to was me? That’s just so wrong.