Most authors will tell you that while they have vast inner worlds built where they observe people’s behavior with laser focus, this skill can be somewhat lacking in the real world. This sometimes leads to surprising human interactions.
I ride the bus to my pays-the-bills job (ironically, for the bus company). Like most transit commuters, I pass the time with technology, most often with an eBook. My current vice is a rereading of Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series (a biannual tradition), and I tend to get pretty deep into books that I like. So deep that I don’t pay attention to what’s going on around me. Thieves take note…steal from me only while I’m squished as small as possible into the window seat and buried in Tortall. Forget the backpack, you could probably even get my shoes at that point.
While thus buried, a man across from me asked a pointed question. Coming up from that deep dive is like a sliver buried in your fingertip, irritating with the high potential for pain. In spite of this, years of customer service training makes me polite, so while not a smiling bucket of bouncy joy, I was civil.
It turns out he was interested in my eBook, which was smart of him. Technojoy is something I will wax loquacious on any day of the week. We spent several minutes talking about the storage specs, the color range, screen glare and web-browsing capability. After that brief spate, I figured the conversation was over, and the throbbing-infected-splinter draw of a book interrupted was calling. Just as I bowed my head to dive in again, this dude piped up asking how it compared to tablet computers.
Politeness won out a second time, so I responded, less enthused. After all, maybe he was thinking of getting an eBook of his own, which made him a potential reader of my kind of stories. He didn’t look like a voracious consumer of young adult fantasy, but who am I to judge who reads what stuff? After all, Bronies exist, so any kind of material is on the table for anyone. And anybody that loves to read anything at all gets a gold star in my book. So I explained that it didn’t hold up when compared to tablets, since it was kind of a one trick pony, and not even the newest model, at that.
He managed to keep the conversation going, very politely on both our sides, for ten more minutes. Then his stop came up, and I did a tiny inner jig of relief, ready to get back to my book. As he passed me on his way out the door, he handed me a tiny slip of paper, saying, “I’d like to talk more about your device”, and stepped off the bus. I looked at the paper in my hands. It was his phone number.
Keep in mind, he’d had this in his hands the entire conversation. Which meant that the entire conversation was not about the eBook in my hand at all, but about finding a way to hand me his phone number. Not once in the entire time we talked did I suspect he was hitting on me. Not once.
As a female of middling looks and a bountiful serving of height, I get my share of dudes making passes (generally more skeevy than not, sadly), but this was a first. Never has anyone passed me his digits so very subtly and with so few red flags. I had not actually looked at the guy, really, until that moment. He looked to be in his middle thirties to early forties, and I found myself impressed in spite of myself. Very smooth, sir. You get a golf clap. You found a point of shared interest with a female you found attractive, talked for a time with the intention of getting to know her, and made your interest to speak to her further known without coming off as a threat.
Am I going to call him? Probably not. That’s not really about him, honestly, though I confess to feeling a bit cheated about his interest in the eBook and the loss of reading time. Seriously, dudes everywhere, wait for the end of a chapter or something. Your success rate will grow 1000%.