A Concise Ethics Rant On A Chance Encounter While Walking Rugby

It was cloudy and rumbling, and Jack Russell Terriers are notoriously difficult if they don’t get at least one good walk every day. So I decided to try to beat the rain and get Rugby out for a swing around the neighborhood. It kept getting darker, windier, and the distant thunder was getting louder. Rugby was in fine fettle, I must say, though he felt compelled to pee on every bush, rock, or tuft of grass. I have never seen a dog who seemed to enjoy a walk so much. I wish there was something, anything, I could get that excited about every day.

We were in the home stretch, about to loop around the church that faces our house across a parking lot and a row of trees. Then a young woman, maybe in her 20’s, dressed for the task, jogged toward us, pony tail swinging. She had that cold, stony, “I don’t want to acknowledge anyone” look on her face that so many younger people cultivate today. I looked at her and smiled anyway. That was how I was brought up, you see. We acknowledge each other. We signal good will, and that we are part of the same community. We are nice.

As she jogged past, I said, certainly loud enough that she could hear me, “Don’t get caught in the rain!” That is an incidental, spontaneous, friendly comment between strangers. I must engage in, and respond to, dozens of such comments a week, while shopping, teaching, or walking the dog.  They require a response: a nod, a smile, a brief answer like “I won’t!” What I got was a snub. No response at all.

I felt like I was being treated like an unfamous Morgan Freeman, as if my statement was, “Hey, honey, good form!” I wasn’t flirting with her, or harassing her. I was being a human being, and doing what human beings need to do to make life bearable.  And I felt insulted.

Yup, I’m old enough to be her father…grandfather, even. That, I was taught, makes showing some respect, like acknowledging that I spoke to her in a friendly, neighborly manner, even more mandatory as an ethical social response.

If this is where feminism, #MeToo, and  generational bias is leading young women today, they will poison the next iteration of our society, not cure it.

Meanwhile, I am pondering whether there is an ethical, effective follow-up response to the next jogger who treats me like a turd on the sidewalk.

The options I am thinking now clearly would not be  constructive.

119 thoughts on “A Concise Ethics Rant On A Chance Encounter While Walking Rugby

  1. When I’m jogging or working out at the gym, I typically listen to podcasts, and aome if them, such as Econtalk, or Intelligence Squared, or This Week In Law, require very close listening because the speakers make complex arguments, present facts that as a layperson I’m unaware of, or make me think of counterarguments or implied assumptions in their arguments. As a result, while I don’t cause accidents, I certainly appear spaced out. Maybe the woman deserves the same charitable assumption, especially since these days headphones are nearly invisible.

    By the way l, I find walking enthusiastic dogs is the best cure for flagging joie de vivre.

  2. Manners is to interpersonal relationships as diplomacy is to international.

    When meeting a new face, the first thing for both parties to do is to make a modicum gesture to indicate there are no ill intentions, to see all involved at ease.

    Yes, we should societally default to ASSUMING the other party has no ill-will towards us. But, if it is still a virtue to maximize the comfort of others through reasonable sacrifices of our own which are within our power, then we should also societally default to ASSUMING the other person is concerned about our own attitudes, and by instinct should seek to *demonstrate* that their concerns (even if they don’t actually have them) are not warranted.

    By friggin smiling, people…or nodding. It’s not that hard.

    • As a cyclist, I ride thousands of miles a year on isolated country roads here in Virginia. I can’t recall when or exactly why, but I have a habit of waving at nearly everybody I pass… people passing in cars… people out in their yards… people walking by. In reflection, I think it is just good policy that I encourage good will with everybody in case I ever need help… which has happened a few times. Nearly always, I get positive response. A few people ignore me. Very, very rarely… I have gotten a negative and even hostile reaction. Some people just have bad days I guess.

  3. As a runner, I always smile or nod. Verbal responses, however, are usually difficult between heavy breathing and not tripping over myself. A more complex statement following the initial acknowledgement, like “don’t get caught in the rain” would catch me off guard, and I wouldn’t figure out a response for half a block….

  4. What. The. Hell?

    “I don’t want to acknowledge anyone” look on her face that so many younger people cultivate today. I looked at her and smiled anyway.

    So she was alone. It was getting dark. It was about to rain. Her body language clearly said I want to get past you without incident.

    But you didn’t care one whit about her feelings because you wanted to get her attention.

    That was how I was brought up, you see. We acknowledge each other. We signal good will, and that we are part of the same community. We are nice.

    Which is the assumption that men abuse on a constant basis. If she makes eye contact, that’s an invitation. If she says hello that’s an invitation. You get to move closer to her, in the dark and the almost rain. She has to stop and speak to you even though she doesn’t want to because you feel entitled to her attention.

    As she jogged past, I said, certainly loud enough that she could hear me, “Don’t get caught in the rain!”

    Great, she thinks. Now that guy’s not just going to try and ask for my number, he’s going to try to offer me a ride and at best try to find out where I live. All I wanted was to get my run in before the rain. Will he leave me alone if I say I have a boyfriend? Will he start screaming at me if I don”t answer? He’s kind of old, maybe if i speed up now he won’t catch me.

    As she jogged past, I said, certainly loud enough that she could hear me, “Don’t get caught in the rain!” That is an incidental, spontaneous, friendly comment between strangers. I must engage in, and respond to, dozens of such comments a week, while shopping, teaching, or walking the dog. They require a response: a nod, a smile, a brief answer like “I won’t!” What I got was a snub. No response at all.

    Emphasis mine.

    Oh if you must, then her worries must not matter. She must respond to you and show you the respect you deserve as someone demanding the attention of a young woman who wanted to be left alone.

    I felt like I was being treated like an unfamous Morgan Freeman, as if my statement was, “Hey, honey, good form!” I wasn’t flirting with her, or harassing her. I was being a human being, and doing what human beings need to do to make life bearable. And I felt insulted.

    A guy says hi to me, no one else is around, it’s after dark. I have a choice to make.

    19/20 times he’s going to ask for my number or outright proposition me. He might decide to work his way up to it and chat for a minute but that’s where things are going. Incidentally, I decided to reject him the moment I saw a shape moving toward me because after dark and alone is not safe, the timing tells me all I need to know about the approaching man.

    The other 1/20 is I’m about to be asked for directions, but people who do that tend to do it where the light is best like in front of a gas station or store.

    Anyway I have a choice to make. Change speed or direction and try to avoid him, not always practical without being obvious and making him angry. Ignore him, make him angry and hope all he does is yell some gendered insults. Allow him to stop me and then reject him and hope all he does it whine a bit and say come on give me a chance. But he also might follow me, he might scream at me, might grab at my arm or elsewhere.

    All of these things have happened to me in the past.

    If you think I’m alone, perhaps I should introduce you to every american woman between the age of 15 and 50.

    Or perhaps I should introduce you to regular commenter, Still Spartan who checks certain cultural check boxes that increase the number of men who’ll choose to approach. I look like someone pasted Ernest Borgnine’s head on Brienne of Tarth’s body and added a ginormous set of tits, and sometimes go two whole days without being propositioned. She’s conventionally pretty.

    You weren’t flirting with her? Experience give her every reason to think you were going to. You even had a dog with you to, in her mind, encourage you to stop and pet the cutie and give you a chance to chat her up. It’s not feminism or #metoo that taught her to expect that. It’s the behavior she’s been subject to from the day her breasts sprouted.

    It may not be your fault but you really have no excuse for not knowing its going on. You damned well should have known better that to worry her with your attention and then get angry when a stranger on the street, in the dark, in the about to rain, didn’t defer to your desire for female attention.

    Whatever you were taught growing up does not match the reality of her life. On some level you had to know that. You didn’t care.

    I can forgive your smile and don’t get caught in the rain. I can’t forgive your anger. You read her body language, you knew she didn’t want to interact, you didn’t care. You’re in the wrong.

      • Not if you’re looking at the situation from her perspective instead of Jacks. She can’t read his mind so she has to go on what has happened to her in the past.

        • So you’re making the most complex of assumptions anyway.

          A smile or even just an nodded acknowledgement of shared humanity.

          Super simple.

          What a miserable community you must want to live in.

            • I could say 0, 1, 100 or 1,000,000,000 and each answer would be irrelevant.

              Not sure why you are trying to set up an ad hominem. Let alone one of the more insidious ad hominaads hominae…ad hominems.

              • You want everyone to follow behavior that has no consequences for you.

                It gets me propositioned and/or insulted and/or assaulted. Not just sometimes but as SOP.

                The problem is your expectations, not mine. If you want that to change, help with the source of the problem.

                • Val,

                  You apparently live in a very sorry area… maybe you should leave the progressive utopias and venture into the heartland? We don’t act that way, as a common everyday thing.

                  Another difference between Red areas and the ‘more evolved’ Blue ones? 🙂

          • What a miserable community you must want to live in.

            That’s such a shitty thing to say. You should be ashamed of yourself.

            I didn’t make the world I live in. I didn’t teach anyone to make inappropriate advances. I didn’t sit by and refuse to correct the behavior of people who do make inappropriate advances.

            I didn’t say anything about wanting it to happen. So quit being an asshole.

            I described reality in 21’st century America. Maybe you somehow got through life so far without knowing it, maybe you’re willfully ignorant. Maybe you’re trolling me.

            Whatever it is, stop.

            You want a world where you can smile and nod and everyone’s happy about it? Then don’t whine about me or ignore reality.

            Help me.

            Spread the word, help teach other people about inappropriate sexual advances.

            Help me.

            Get the message out that a woman smiling back is not a signal that she wants to fuck you.

            Help me.

            Give reminders that body language that says leave me alone means leave me alone. Let the person pass.

            What are you going to do? (Help you.)

            Make people understand unsafe situations. Places where help isn’t immediately available. Dark places when an unseen buddy might be nearby.

            What are you going to do? (Help you.)

            Know not to create a captive audiences. Leave escape routes clear. Be mindful that an elevator can easily become a prison. Don’t sit down in the aisle seat and then bother the person sitting by the window who now has to get past you to leave.

            What are you going to do? (Help you.)

            Teach that there’s a how and a where and a when and socially sanction those who don’t listen.

            Help me get the word out and maybe you’ll get a world where it’s safe to smile back.

            Thank you. God bless you. And God bless The United States of America.

            *cue music*

            • Hardly. You don’t want people to smile at each other or acknowledge each other’s existence in passing because you’ve projecting your neuroses and paranoia onto everyone else.

              That’s fits perfectly my characterization about you wanting to live in a miserable community.

              You’re advice for improvement is noted but misdirected.

              Have a good evening. (Ignore that if that quaint well-wishing triggers you)

              • Reading comprehension. I find yours lacking.

                Ignore that if that quaint well-wishing triggers you

                Bless your heart.

                • Wow. This explains a LOT about your responses here at EA.

                  I described reality in 21’st century America.

                  Your experiences are NOT common to ALL of America. I resent that you take your limited viewpoint and project it across all those deplorables you despise.

                  Our quality of life is evidently much higher than yours.

            • ”Get the message out that a woman smiling back is not a signal that she wants to fuck you.”

              We’ll leave aside that your assertion is by no means universal (despite your ardent wish that it is) and the fact that it isn’t has been confirmed far too many times to mention; to me it has been, leastways.

              Anywho, will do…with but one caveat; I must insist that you get the message out to X-Chromosomal Units that my smiling back, acknowledging a grin-enhanced conversation they began, is not a signal that I want them to fuck me.

              Quid pro quo Goose/Gander kinda thingey; fair enough?

    • When I was in my twenties, I had to travel more and be out alone. I always had to be aware, especially when the were no others visible nearby I might be able to call for help. Any dog only adds to the paranoia for many women. (though I have yet to meet a pup that didn’t like me) Self defense and safety people have also advised against ANY interaction with strangers. Don’t engage is a maxim today in some settings.

      Such paranoia doesn’t help hold the binds of society together, but we are told over and over, that it is OUR responsibility to be wary. I’m a bit ornery, so I didn’t stop, but a lot of my cohort did. Or learned to, the hard way. It probably wasn’t any intention to be rude or dismissive of you and your dog, but is it really her job to prevent your offense? You often speak against easily offended groups, correct?

      • No, it’s everyone’s job to make life for everyone else less threatening, friendlier, more united, less stressful, more trusting, happier, more civil, and more pleasant in the short time we are here. That’s what ethics is. There is no ethical conduct in isolation. We have to insist on norms that make society as a whole endurable. Simple niceness imposes on nobody. It requires no special ideology or political view. Simple, basic courtesy multiplied a million times makes a material difference. Looking strangers in the eye and smiling is a minimal requirement for social balm. Do we all have an obligation not to be dicks? Yes. And we should be offended at anyone who ducks that responsibility.

        • I thoroughly agree in general. And I consciously cut back as I got older. I will talk to talk to just about anyone about just about anything, as long as I’m not in too isolated or high crime area. It’s not even necessarily creepy vs nice appearance. Two of the biggest creeps I’ve met did not display that. But I’ve had far more male friends than female, so I don’t hold social chit chat as bad at all. I wanted to explain why that specific situation didn’t give your expected response. If she ran into you at a book store where she felt safer you could have gotten a very different reaction. Getting offended does nothing to address when she didn’t feel safe.

          How can the need for hypersensitivity be reduced, when women are routinely taunted and intimidated as a first stage for too often worse things?

    • Great and provocative comment. One.
      How sad. Two.

      Are woman really that fearful, paranoid and neurotic? No wonder they have special problems. It’s no way to live, develop a community, or earn how to deal with people.

      I can strike up a conversation with anyone who doesn’t have their head up their ass, and do , many times a week, several times a day. It’s her loss, I guess, but I was certainly not trying to “get her attention.” I shouldn’t have to try–we occupied the same space for a moment. If she collapsed, I would have come to her aid. If I did, she would have just kept on running. After all, it might be a ruse….

      • Great and provocative comment.

        On a rational level I know you did not. On an emotional level I feel like you decided provoke me with your post. Said something where I’d have no choice but to poke back. I only mention this because of our recent email conversation.

        If she collapsed, I would have come to her aid. If I did, she would have just kept on running. After all, it might be a ruse….

        It might, but she probably would have called 911 from a safe distance, say from across the street. So you would receive professional medical attention.

    • Along the lines of what valkygrrl is saying, there are a variety of tricks for manipulating people, known to every car salesman, pickup artist, and charming serial killer.

      One of those tricks is to do something that will create an obligation. Salespeople do this all the time. They come over and try to help you choose from the products they are selling. While this certainly can provide useful information to you, it also serves the function of creating in you a sense of obligation. “She was so nice, and she’s been so helpful, and I was thinking of buying something like this anyway…”

      Another example would be when as woman is pushing a cart full of groceries across the lot to her car, and just as she opens the rear hatch a guy who is not an employee of the grocery store comes up and cheerfully offers to help her load the bags into her car. Maybe he even picks a bag out of the cart before she can respond. He’s being helpful, right? But he’s probably not doing it entirely out of altruism. It’s likely he’s hoping she’ll feel obligated to pay back his help with at least a few minutes of friendly conversation, during which he can maybe ask for her number. It’s a (rather benign) attempt at manipulation.

      So, why exactly did you tell her “Don’t get caught in the rain”? Is that just something you do? Giving friendly warnings about pending inclement weather to passing strangers? Or did you say that because you were hoping this young woman would respond to you?

      I’m not saying you were up to anything nefarious. Perhaps you just felt a random need for an interaction with another human being. Or perhaps you saw her coming with what you describe as an “I don’t want to acknowledge anyone” look on her face and you decided to test her, to see if she would refuse to acknowledge you, as you suspected she would. Still, it sounds like you were deliberately trying to get her to respond.

      There’s no real harm in any of this, of course. But in trying to get her to respond, you were trying, however trivially, to manipulate her. As valkygrrl points out, some women have guys trying to manipulate them all the time, and they become really, really sensitive to it.

      • Windy, what Jack did is called ‘social interaction’ and not a manipulation of any sort. Just what human beings have done since, well, ever.

        That folks feel as you describe is an indictment of our society.

        • That doesn’t exactly rebut my point. What you’re saying is that Jack used the pretext of warning her about the rain in order to goad her into interacting socially with him, even though she showed no prior interest in doing so and in fact had avoided the opportunity to smile back at him. There’s nothing wrong with that. It was a symbolic gesture to start an interaction. She likely saw Jack’s warning as the attempt to start an interaction that it was, and declined the interaction, as she has every right to do. Nobody did anything wrong here.

          • No, I did not set out to rebut your point, but to show that the term ‘manipulation’ is being twisted here based on lack of intent or gain to be had.

            We agree more than we disagree here. Let’s just not change the meanings of words and context to fit a narrative.

  5. I’m going to go on a bit of a rant based on my own experiences so call me an idiot if you see fit. I’m in my early 30s and there is definitely an idea that’s in vogue among women my age that strange men talking to them and being nice are usually creeps. I dont know where it started or where it came from but I learned this lesson many times first hand. This eventually lead to me learning to not be a “nice guy” to women but be more edgy and outgoing; more spontaneous and condescending. It worked. Now, guys I see who are still single and are clueless, usually take on the older, more traditional male roles of being cordial and nice like you were. It doesn’t work. I’m not saying you have to be “that guy” where you’re a huge a-hole, just that you have to be more like “Hey, I’m doing my own thing, don’t really need you or care about you, can have a great time with or without you around, but come join if you want.” You can be nice being this type of guy too but you usually don’t go out of your way to do so, it’s more of like a happenstance. For instance, if that woman jogging dropped her water bottle, you would pick it up and hand it back to her, she would say “thank you” and you would just ignore her and keep running. Maybe give her a little smirk or something. THAT would get her going. But again, these don’t apply in every situation but it’s definitely things I’ve observed on my own trying to attract women and also seeing other guys who are good at it vs ones who aren’t. I’ve literally heard my girlfriend’s best friend say she is losing interest in a guy she was dating because he is too nice and isn’t challenging. They are in their early 30s too. I’ve met the guy and he wasn’t a pushover. But who knows. Anyone around my age who tells you otherwise…that this isn’t how it is, isn’t really being honest. If you’re just trying to strike up a convo, just being nice, 9 times out of 10 they’ll think you’re hitting on them.

    • just that you have to be more like “Hey, I’m doing my own thing, don’t really need you or care about you, can have a great time with or without you around, but come join if you want.” You can be nice being this type of guy too but you usually don’t go out of your way to do so, it’s more of like a happenstance. For instance, if that woman jogging dropped her water bottle, you would pick it up and hand it back to her, she would say “thank you” and you would just ignore her and keep running. Maybe give her a little smirk or something. THAT would get her going. But again, these don’t apply in every situation but it’s definitely things I’ve observed on my own trying to attract women and also seeing other guys who are good at it vs ones who aren’t.

      So you’re a complete human being, you do your thing and you’re happy about it and treat her like a complete human being who can do her own thing and be happy about it? And getting together involves two complete people on equal terms without pressure applied and free choice for both parties? Plus none of this requires that you abandon basic considerate behavior like handing a dropped object back to someone? And you’re not pushy about it?

      And you find yourself able to have consensual adult relations?

      I don’t want to swell your head or anything but you just might be a normal person who has healthy relationships.

  6. The only people who seem to chat me up are usually asking for money, so my default is stone-faced, looking straight ahead. Don’t read into it too much. There is enough harassment of various kinds out there to take a standoffish approach to strangers. And I’m a big guy, and I still have gotten harassed while running.

  7. You know, I can’t open a door to a public building without looking over my shoulder to see if I should hold the door for someone. I also rush to open and hold a door for a woman or the elderly. I can’t imagine doing otherwise.

    I work two days a week at a “social justice college” and often the students let the door slam in front of you. If I hold lithe door for them, I rarely get a thank you.

  8. It depends on the day & situation. Living in Portland as a special downtrodden unicorn (woman of color sometimes w/ my butch wife) I avoid the sometimes “let me make you feel special by making me feel special & woke” vibe that comes at me more since Nov. 2016. Not every interaction is like that but often the signs are clear and I just don’t feel like affirming someone trying to be “color brave” and affirm me. Also our large growing homeless population and expanding crime (thanks sanctuary city) has taken safety to new lows here. So now I have to carry mace, even in my fancy neighborhood because there are literally boogie men all over now.

    Valky also has a valid point in that being a fairly young and/or attractive woman on a walk, as night falls is simply a lesson in being an open target for men who are not as genteel as Jack may be. One too many “innocent” conversations are not. As a woman I have to sometimes wear the flaming angry face, even when I’m actually in a friendly mood. It’s about safety and understanding the state won’t protect me, nor will some man or even a bystander. At the end of the day you’re on your own, and that means sacrificing good will for survival at times.

    Also as someone who may be walking anywhere from 2-8 dogs, I simply can’t talk or acknowledge comments when we’re on the go. It’s absolutely dangerous for those who want to get warm fuzzies from my dogs. They could get bitten, the dogs could get loose or fight among themselves, or worse. I must focus on my charges and have gotten some nasty comments for simply doing my job from others not understanding how dogs in a pack work or how much concentration it takes to do what I do, and do it like a maestro. My high end clients expect nothing less than the best and I ignore anyone who disrupts this. Headphones curb much of this problem because even trying to explain why I can’t talk is an exercise in futility.


    Jack’s point that overall younger folks are less friendly is sometimes true. I try to say hi or smile when I see neighbors or people who I sense are, well, not crazy. I actually love chatting with new people but have learned it’s best to not be hurt if someone doesn’t return a smile or common politeness. I put myself in their shoes and think how maybe they have a headache or just got bad news or maybe they think I’m the wacky one. I don’t like those moments of rejection but they are not offensive, just disappointing.

    What I’ll say though is that I stay ready…ready to be a kind community member, neighbor, and citizen. When I encounter especially younger people who are polite and friendly it’s a joyful thing and I’m happy to say, happens at least daily. I’m also ready to protect myself, which I believe is a duty I uphold for my self, my family, and my clients.

  9. “I am pondering whether there is an ethical, effective follow-up response to the next jogger who treats me like a turd on the sidewalk.”

    Probably not. She may not have been as polite to you as she could have been, but it would be bad manners for you to call her out — and this is definitely a manners kind of situation. You don’t really know why she didn’t answer. Maybe she’s deaf. Maybe she’s struggling with a serious personal tragedy and can’t bear to talk to people. Maybe she was distracted by something and couldn’t respond quickly enough. Maybe…whatever. It doesn’t matter that all of those scenarios are unlikely. You don’t have to believe them. However, good manners dictate, where possible, that our responses carry a presumption that other people are not being intentionally rude.

  10. Gave up trying to make “pass the time of day” conversation a couple of years ago, except with old women born in China. And tourists. And people dressed in bright orange and black-black or the Warriors colors (the best starter, regardless of happy or sullen demeanor, is “How’d the game go?” But then, the result was not really a conversation, unless I interjected a comment, which was more likely to be rolled over or lead to a head-banging contest. Baseball, I can hold my own. For awhile. Basketball, nada. Went through a period of a few months when I even deliberately invited responses from people who had invisible companions (or pets, once). Not kidding.

    I sympathize with Jack AND I understand where Valkygrrl is coming from. Part of it is flat generational. Manners used to change over centuries; now it takes a mere couple of decades. But I think the woman’s attitude could be coming from another place (that is, if it wasn’t that her last pair of headphones got busted, or she has a tiny cordless earpiece that couldn’t be seen from the opposite side, or she wasn’t clinically deaf or stoned): It’s a matter of women’s entitlement. Ignoring the peasant (i.e, the man and, by association his male companion) is the prerogative of the royal, the crustiest of the upper reaches of society, sisters to themiddle-class
    snobs of Elizabeth Gaskell, Dickens, Thackery. We only laugh at them in fiction. In real life they are walking (or jogging), non-talking, superior, newly crowned queens of the world. They are “getting their own back,” “asserting their independence,” practicing their new-found feminist stance on an innocent fellow walking his dog in the park …. before they try it on others in more personal encounters.

    Their easier prey are young vulnerable, unknowing girls who will follow them blindly into an empty future. There is nothing amusing about these creatures and their number is growing apace. They have transcended any arguments of the equality to which they are, in fact entitled, and taken on all the worst traits of bully and snob.

    However, all that is beside the point. THE ELECTRIC SCOOTERS ARE COMING. They are silent. They will zoom down on you on the sidewalk, legalities ignored, weave between cars where they can’t be seen and give drivers heart attacks and road-rage-extra. They will be discarded across the sidewalk directly in your path. They’re rented. Who cares. Sooner or …. well, probably sooner, someone’s going to die. I hope the driver gets off.

    • I said “newly crowned,” mariedowd. From your previous posts, I gathered you have had that status for some time.

  11. It’s almost 6:30 AM here. It rained last night. The sky is overcast, the moon is out, but it’s light outside. I took Lucky out for a walk. Like Rugby, it’s the highlight of his day; like Rugby, Lucky investigates every patch of flowers on the way. The only thing threatening this morning was a gaggle of Canada geese near the pond.

    On the way, I restricted his leash when I saw a couple of bikers headed toward us. Lucky thinks he’s protecting me by lunging and barking at anything that moves…or doesn’t. This is generally only dangerous with the geese. But I don’t want to alarm them.

    As they pass, I smile and wave my free hand. He does a minor lunge and small growl. One of the bikers smiles and says, “Good morning”.

    Our experiences were so different. Maybe there’s a gender issue. Maybe the time of day played a factor or that it was post-rain instead of pre-rain. Maybe it’s a difference between Virginia and Indiana. Maybe because, at my age and height, I am the least threatening person in existence.

    There are friendly people out there, though. I don’t know why the jogger you encountered didn’t respond (in a hurry, didn’t want to get caught in the rain, saw you as a threat, saw Rugby as a threat or was just too focused on something else to notice), but it may not have had anything to do with the #Metoo. We have, as a people, become rather standoffish when it comes to strangers in this country. It’s been going on for awhile. We’re a little more cynical, a little less trusting, a little too self-absorbed.

    Keep being friendly, though.

    • Like AM, I am in the keep being friendly mode. Continue acting like the community you want us to be. How other people behave is not within our control. Lead by example.

      When my parents dropped me off at college, our freshmen convocation was led by the President’s wife. Her words were simple. This is your family away from home. You will greet everyone you meet with a smile and hello, regardless of whether you know or particularly like them. This community (900 students isolated in rural southern Indiana) depends, at least in part, on our being kind to each other. Those words stuck.

      I have no idea or nor do I care what people think when I smile and greet them, even in the biggest cities like Chicago. (If I get accosted because I am kind, they quickly learn I am not an easy mark physically or emotionally.) If they don’t like it or suspect me of something, they’ll soon find out I am not worthy of their suspicion by my absence or sincerity.

      Personally, I really dislike people. That does not stop me from trying to be kind to all I meet until they prove themselves unworthy of my kindness. If women think I am weird or being creepy, I don’t care. If men think I am weak, I don’t care. At least I am putting forth kindness to the best of my ability into the world, regardless of my return on investment.

  12. I do not see an issue here. Is she obligated to return your concern/friendly comment? Maybe via manners? Maybe she is a “zone” runner. I’m 73-years-old and still do five miles a day, but all trails, but back in the road days some runners are so focused that they are oblivious to all around them. And, of course, earbuds. My wife once gave me a Walkman (remember those) and I found it such a distraction it is now rotting in the woods after one use. And why should she change her routine? She is exercising and not responsible to return every comment. Me? I would just give a slight wave of acknowledgment. Also – why should she trust you? As I said I am a trail runner and far too many women avoid it over safety issues. Can you blame them?

  13. The background: I’m a big ol’ Midwestern boy (emphasis on the Big, I’m north of 6 feet and 300 lbs) who prefers running on trails or at night to avoid traffic and crowds. If I see a fellow-traveler I’ll give an abbreviated nod or wave, possibly a quick “hey” if they make eye contact.

    If they respond, great! I had a pleasant interaction with a stranger! But maybe they don’t. Maybe they’re lost in thought and don’t notice my small gesture. Maybe they’re nervous of someone my size when we’re out in the woods. Maybe they’re putting everything they have into the run and don’t want to be distracted by turning towards me.

    If a polite gesture mandates a response, it’s no longer polite but rather a formality. A handshake at a business meeting isn’t some nice bonding gesture, it’s just a point of order that’s done no matter what. If you want the world to be a friendlier place keep being friendly. Instead of thinking of ways to get a dig in at the next person who ignores you, just be satisfied knowing that you did something nice for the sake of it, with no expectation of reciprocity or return. Maybe if enough people do that, we can change the perception that any form of engagement is just a prelude to some sort of request.

    • If you offer your hand for a shake, is there an obligation for the other individual to respond? No, but not responding still is a snub. This is a zero sum game. You either receive a positive response, or a negative one. Yes, no response at all is just a less flamboyant way to say, “Fuck off, old man.”

      • If a nice gesture is offered with the expectation of a response in kind, and failure to get the desired response is treated as a “fuck off,” then the initial gesture really wasn’t “nice” but rather a selfish demand that the interaction go as YOU preferred regardless of what the other party may have preferred.

        • Expectation is not the same as motive. We are nice to be nice. We are ethical to be ethical. That does not excuse others from the social obligation to be nice and ethical as well.

          I have confronted clerks who refuse to make eye-contact and ignore attempts to interact. I have said, “Have I offended you in some way? Because that’s hwo you are acting, and I don’t deserve that treatment.”

  14. I am a country raised girl, and politeness is the law of the land out here. “Country polite” means, when in a vehicle, waving at all walkers, runners, cyclists, and other oncoming (and occasionally passing) motorists, especially policemen, firemen, and ambulances unless they are in the middle of rushing off to an emergency. I will admit that none of us keep to this in the big city as a practical measure. As a cyclist, nods to all of the above are appropriate and walkers and runners should find a happy medium between waving and running. I listen to music when I exercise and make certain to keep the volume low enough to hear others and respond appropriately. In my small hometown I’d be the talk of all the little old ladies and get the disapproving stares of all the old men until I went and publicly apologized. Such poor behavior would be considered a reflection on my character and that of my parents.

    In the larger town that I find myself now, no one listens to the little old ladies or the old men and behavior suffers. We now don’t have the close bonds of community that so made life exciting when I grew up. People are now afraid of everyone else, and never stop to help get someone out of a snowdrift or fix a flat tire. You don’t go mow the lawn of the homebound down the street and it is now considered suspicious to bring, unasked, cookies or a freezable meal to a neighbor who had the coroner’s truck or ambulance out front the previous night. I was taught, in college, away from the community that I grew up in, that I didn’t need to care about what everyone thought about my character, which also meant that I didn’t need to conform to the politeness rituals of my childhood. “I’m the only important one, only what I think matters,” was the lesson taught. Politeness rituals suddenly were treated like they were false obligations, instead of a glue that binds society together. I mourn the public death of these rituals, as they have the ability to bring so much joy and sense of belonging.

    However, I am also female, so I understand and greatly sympathize with the concerns of other posters when considering how a woman should or shouldn’t respond recognizing the threats out there. I also recognize that there are prices paid for being in society that are unjust. As a woman, if I choose to use public transportation, especially crowded public transportation, getting my butt or breast grabbed is a price to pay for the service. This is just as true with getting hit on or annoyed by simply being polite and being talked down to and treated worse because of my sex at a mostly male job. It is a fact of life for a female. My opinion is, however, that most people are generally good people, even if there is an increasing number of jerks. This does not decrease my responsibility to be a decent human being, up to and including following basic politeness rituals or obligations.

    In response to your final question, I believe that there is little you can or should do in the future when you are snubbed. Your actions are good, as are your intents. Keep doing the right thing and maybe others will learn from it. However, remind your son, and should the day come when there are grandchildren, teach them. Keep having these discussions online. I feel this is the only way to encourage appropriate behavior. Oh, and if you see a man acting inappropriately with a woman, speak out. Minimizing a woman’s contact with creeps may help her act like a polite human too. However, from many of your previous posts, I think you already do, or intend to do these things, so keep at it.

    • I nominate this for Comment of the Day.

      It IS the experience I have been talking about, the Heartland Experience(tm)

      We have jerks too. They don’t get to change our society.

    • Sarah I appreciate your sentiments. One point of disagreement is about public transit carrying a price of bring groped. I don’t identify as a feminist however I believe no woman should have to “pay” for anything with her body. No one should. Women who allow this are helping the problem. The response can be reasonable depending on the situation, but society isn’t aided by allowing criminals to commit crime on you so you can ride the bus.

      • By price to pay, I mean more that it is an expected or common side effect than an actual cost. For example, the price of not prepping for tomorrow’s meal because I’m sick today is that I will have to spend a great deal more time in the kitchen tomorrow no matter how sick I may be tomorrow or the price of not paying direct attention to my youngest for ten minutes while I make dinner is the possibility of cleaning up a potty training accident. I do not mean that it is right or even acceptable that a woman should be groped on crowded public transportation. It is, however, an unfortunate fact of life as a woman, that such things are likely to happen and not accepting that as a possibility does not allow me to take prudent and reasonable precautions, though back to my main point, I feel that prudent and reasonable precautions need to still contain the elements of common politeness.

  15. In The 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality, bikers are hands down FAR worse than runners. But then they’re tasked with saving Mother Gaia, a responsibility that requires occupying a higher emotional/existential/psychological/physical/intellectual plane and not deigning to acknowledge mere mortals.

    ” ‘Country polite’ means, when in a vehicle, waving at all walkers, runners, cyclists, and other oncoming (and occasionally passing) motorists”

    Not the worst condition from which to suffer, and one with which some of City Slickers (myself included) are afflicted, to the eternal chagrin of my lovely and long-suffering wife and whomever else is in my company.

    “Maybe she is a ‘zone’ runner.”

    Entirely within the realm of possibility. Anyone that is/has been a serious long distance runner will tell you their mind wanders, they can’t help it. In that state, the snap back to the present is rarely smooth or quick, unless imminent danger (snapping dog, blaring horn, or screeching tires) intervenes to hasten the process.

    A more advanced, as in further down that path, member of that…um…breed is the ”obligatory” runner.


    Until contracting TMB (Too Many Birthdays) and a couple of knee surgeries, I was one of them. At a 10 to 13 mile/day clip, I once went nearly 10 years without missing a day, an incomplete bucket handle tear of the medial meniscus ended that streak. After recovery I went another 11.25 years. I once fell and fractured my ulna on my second run of the day. It may come as no surprise that I finished up the 4 miles and ran through recovery.

    It was definitely an addiction, but, I convinced myself, a positive one. A gal pal at the time lamented that my “schedule” was impactful on others, as in hers. I calmly suggested it was a matter of opinion whose schedule was being compromised.

    I’m now down to 3.5 miles/day & skip a day or three every month.

    When I was in the thick of it, rarely would I stop to address someone/thing. I was always laser-focused, (Rich T above “some runners are so focused that they are oblivious to all around them.”) time-constrained, and O2 deprived. I would always acknowledge a quick wave or a hello, which may likely have been construed as brusque and curt, but more than a word or two takes more energy than people think.

    My approach was “equal opportunity.” Once my parents and a couple of their friends passed by me in their car and wanted to engage me in lengthy discourse. I just told them to meet me at my apartment 1/4 mile further up the road.

    I used to get more miffed when a proffered greeting was rebuffed until I got my comeuppance ~ 10 years ago. While walking my Good Golden Girl, I said hello to another dog walker. He didn’t respond, so I approached him indignantly and said “is it too much for you to say hello?”

    As he looked at me sheepishly and stammered out an apology (he was speech impaired) and I saw he was wearing hearing aids.

    Lesson learned.

  16. I was driving my pickup truck down a local county highway many years ago and saw a biker on the side of the road, appeared to be broke down. I ride motorcycles, I’ve been there, I had a ramp in my truck to load a bike. I pulled off the road in front of where he was stopped, got out, walked back to him, and asked if he was broke down and needs some help. His reply was an angry “What the fuck does it look like?” or something to that effect. I stared at him for a moment, said something like “Fine, with an attitude like that you can stay on the side of the fucking road.” and I got in my truck and drove away.

    Sometimes people need to be put in their place.

    Every action has a reaction, every choice has a consequence.

  17. After reading all written on this post, I have to admit that there ARE many more trying to manipulate the public these days then ever before, in my life.

    Part of this is social media, another part is free cell minutes (yes, we used to be charged by the minute) and the ease of contacting anyone, anywhere, at any time.

    Callers will attempt to steer the conversation to sell you something, or scam you. Happens every day, to the point I will not answer a caller whose ID I do not know (boosted by the fact that my phone knows those in my contacts) If they need to speak with me, they can leave a message, which I can now just read to see if it rates attention.

    I used to think not answering a phone was rude, and hanging up on a salesperson unforgivable. These days, it is simple self defense.

    • As one whose calls are charged by the minute (on a Stupidphone) — I commend you for your (in)actions. Mine include requesting everyone I know to use email, and everyone to whom I give my number (including medical personnel) know that I only answer the phone when pre-planned in person or via email, and only use it when necessary. I got through a year on $100 in 2017 and found I had much more satisfying conversations face to face, and had much more detail and accurate info to refer to “on paper” email than I would have taking notes with a phone in one hand. It did take me quite a while to remember to take Stupe with me whenever I went out, though, even if it was just to use the bus stop codes for ETAs and delays.

  18. Second browser to try, fourth try to post…

    I do the opposite of Jack, in some respects, when walking my dog and facing an oncoming female jogger or walker. I hardly ever initiate a greeting. If a greeting is initiated that I am aware of, then I will return it. I am most comfortable with initiating a greeting if prior eye contact is made, and then maintained, for longer than a split second. But, I still will rarely initiate the greeting, be it a grin or smile, a nod or “toss” of the head, a hand-wave, or speaking a simple “Hi” or “Good Morning.” If the eye contact does not immediately lead to the female initiating a greeting, I break eye contact. My reasoning typically is: We two persons are in entirely different worlds; we are headed our respective ways, and this time, they are in opposite directions. Neither of us has any obligation to greet the other. While it would be nice to know if mutual goodwill exists, that knowledge is not necessary, and communicating in some way to indicate whether that mutual goodwill exists is not an immediate need, either – not here, and not now.

    With my dog, there is a bigger issue. He is so big, I will generally stray off the path, or if the space is available, in a direction skewed from my anticipated direction of the oncoming person, in an effort to exaggerate attempted avoidance. If there is no room for us to maneuver, often I will just stop to make sure I have him close to me with his leash tight and short, while the other person passes by. See, I don’t know what my dog might do; he isn’t wild or hot-tempered, has never bared his fangs at another person. Nor is he overly friendly, either. My assessment of him is that he is just pretty dumb. But he is “excitable,” and even after 6-plus years, I have yet to be sure about what-all “triggers” him. So I basically mean to be saying non-verbally to the oncoming person, when I pull away from “directly passing by:” I don’t know what YOU are capable of, and I don’t know what my dog is capable of – and I don’t want to be tested by any circumstance to a point of having to find out what _I_ am capable of.

    I do always warily eye a person approaching me, whether or not I happen to be walking alone or walking my dog. Nothing misogynist about that, just general being-wary-of-all. If some poor lady walking or jogging toward and past me, by either her body language or speech, acts as if her sight of my eyes looking in her direction is some kind of leering, “sneak-perving,” or prelude to a come-on, then she is simply mistaken; I don’t blame her for being wary, even suspicious, even “prickly” or stand-offish. I don’t even speculate immediately about any possible other issues she might have, such as misandry, or a history of having been terrorized, or snooty arrogance, or being “zoned-out” and incidentally oblivious to me as a consequence, etc. I’d probably do the same as she, if I were her, I tell myself. (That’s at least the self-consoling “language” I speak to myself internally. I do sprinkle that speaking-to-self with my own arrogance at times: “If I don’t rate for her to say ‘Hi,’ then it’s HER loss,” etc.)

    Jack, if I were you, I would not let myself over-think encounters with strangers like you described. Don’t let the absence of a greeting ruin your day. Stay friendly as you choose; block out and avoid speculation about how others might be perceiving you, or whether and why they might be deliberately ignoring you. Regardless of whether a mutual greeting occurred, I would just make a “sperm of the moment” decision about sneaking a peek at the lady’s butt (that was only half sarcastic).

    • lucky,

      You live on the ‘Yellow’ level of the Cooper Situational Color Codes, with forays into ‘Orange.’ This is where one should be, and your internal dialog is perfectly fine. One should avoid being on a ‘White’ level of awareness (‘White’=oblivious) which is where most crooks look for their victims.

      For Reference, and paraphrased:

      White = Oblivious
      Yellow = relaxed but aware and observant
      Orange = possible threat observed; focused and prepared to react; withdraw if possible to negate or mitigate the threat
      Red = active defense, fight or flight; you ARE a target and in danger

  19. I agree with valkygrrl and the others on this issue.

    The mindset we’re dealing with here is reputation (themed on dust). It’s the combination of empathy and strategy, and it deals with accumulated impressions and associations. Anything to do with cognitive dissonance usually falls under the purview of this mindset.

    Because of your physical appearance, you generate an impression for people. That impression is partly a result of impressions that others of similar countenance have already generated on those people. Your appearance associates you with those others, consciously or subconsciously, rationally or irrationally, in the minds of people you meet.

    The dust from all the previous interactions people have had collects on anything with similar qualities. The stronger an interaction or the more times it is repeated, the more dust collects. It can’t simply be shaken off or negated with rules–that’s not how impressions work. However, you can work with them if you know they’re there.

    One way to deal with an accumulation of undesirable dust (a bad reputation generated by people who share your traits, superficial or otherwise) is to build up your own personal dust/reputation to counteract it. Note, though, that if you want to build a fortified, cohesive impression that sticks with people, you must first take care not to accidentally play into the impressions you’re trying to counteract, even in an oblique manner. It’s important to avoid acting similar to an archetype if you want to distinguish yourself.

    For example, to distance yourself from a poor reputation, note the fashion and behavior of those who carry that reputation. Staring, offering flattery, and providing unsolicited help without asking permission are all activities associated with people of less than selfless intentions, so that’s something to be aware of. Regardless of your intentions, your behavior will be seen in a particular context, so awareness of how the context works is key. Genuine intentions are indistinguishable from ulterior motives in immediate situations, so others have to use their impressions to make the judgment call. Knowing how they do that helps you avoid triggering warning signs by accident. (Also, people usually don’t like getting unsolicited advice. Maybe she likes getting caught in the rain. Either way, she doesn’t need you to tell her about the weather.)

    To actively create your own reputation, it’s best to make it clear that you have your own life and priorities, so that you don’t trigger impressions of people who are out for attention. Tom R described this approach very effectively above, and it’s similar to what I do. I actually like watching people and the emotions their facial expressions convey, but in order to avoid putting people off, I usually find something else interesting to look at (which is difficult in a crowd).

    Tangent paragraph: I used to be more of an unconscious “nice guy” (as opposed to a regular nice person, which I still am under most circumstances). I was prompted to reevaluate my paradigm when a college friend of mine who studied pickup artistry introduced me to the idea of “negging”, whereby a person acts aloof and politely unimpressed to signal that they are high-status, and to marginally lower the self-confidence of another person so they are more agreeable. Me being an actual nice person, I realized that if you eschew the use of it to manipulate people into ill-considered decisions, this sort of mentality is actually very important and constructive for people to be able to implement. Exercising genuine self-confidence (which usually means foregoing flashy displays) has three benefits: 1) you are not desperate for the attention of other people, in general or specific individuals; 2) other people are less likely to fear you because your security means you have no motive to threaten them (unless they fear those they can’t control); 3) other people are more likely to respect and admire you (which you don’t need, being self-confident, but it does come in handy). Furthermore, I realized that some of my voluntary association with other people were not based on my interest in them as people, but rather based on my physical attraction towards them. Accordingly, I decided people would have to earn my interest regardless of what they looked like. Have I been romantically successful since then? No, but I also haven’t had draining, distracting, or otherwise unhealthy relationships either, because I keep my standards high and focus on becoming complete and earning my own self-respect. Maintaining a healthy self-image is another thing reputation mindset is useful for. After all, the way you see yourself is just another reputation.

    A related mindset that can help is surprise (themed on “quantum”). Combining empathy with tactics, it lets you figure out how to subvert expectations and evoke the impressions you want. Both surprise and reputation are aspects of the high-level mindset of presentation.

    To use surprise mindset in this situation, you might want to do something that marks you as unusual, so that people forget the context they might otherwise associate you with. Singing age- or gender-atypical songs (e.g. classics for younger people, pop songs for older people) would be one way. You might also try juggling, or anything else that sets you apart.

    On a completely different note, the reason people socialize with and help each other in small towns is because they are small towns. There’s no one else around to help, and people usually need to look out for each other and know how to fix several types of practical problems. In big cities, if people want help, they hire it, because there’s a business specialized in that exact thing that can be there in half an hour. Towns are small clusters of people who deal in social transactions. Cities are large clusters of specialized people who deal in monetary transactions, because it’s unrealistic to keep track of all your neighbors and what they need in large population centers. To put it in mindset terms, towns and other small groups often use empathy (individualizing interactions) and benefit from it because people will know how to help those they know more effectively. With large groups of people who don’t all know each other (exceeding Dunbar’s number, the number of meaningful social relationships a human can have), they have to use semantics (simplifying interactions) and deal in rules and quantities to maintain a functional order. Semantics does have certain advantages, since it allows faster movement, more consistent expectations, and roles that survive the replacement of individual people. There are pros and cons to each approach.

    Anyway, that’s my take on the whole situation. The paradigm of these mindsets is how I make sense of the world, and so far it seems effective, but I’d like to see how well the concepts come across. Thoughts?

    • Yes. Valkygirrl was rationalizing bigotry. Every human being has a right to be judged as an individual. For example, I won’t assume the next 20-ish young woman I encounter is going to be an aloof and anti-social creep. If I were black, I would be pointing to a micro-aggression. I am not going to happily be treated as if I am threatening and obnoxious. when I am walking in the opposite direction, the person I have addressed is young, running and going in the opposite direction.I posed no threat, acted in good cheer and faith. I should be treated likewise. There was no inconvenience required. She didn’t have to stop. A simple “Thanks!” would be a fair response. How hard is that? How risky is that? It isn’t that she has any duty to me to answer, it is that snubbing a stranger like that is a gratuitous insult.

      And nobody signals “trustworthy” more than a man in a Red Sox hat and Red Sox SHOES, walking a Jack Russell Terrier.

      • Running isn’t as leisurely as walking a dog. Runners are concentrating on moving, not on socializing. If you say anything more complicated than a brief salutation, you may disrupt their concentration or break their rhythm. She likely didn’t expect you to speak, and had no time to process what you said and formulate a coherent response before she passed you by. When I’m out for a walk I either make eye contact, smile, nod, and give a basic greeting, or I’m deep in thought, staring into space, and looking around at things. I’m caught off-guard for a few seconds when I’m people engage with me despite my display of “mind-is-elsewhere”.

        You can converse with strangers in the line at the supermarket, but it’s foolish to expect a response from a person running by you. I don’t chat about the weather to people on bicycles, because they are quickly gone. I don’t talk to people lifting weights, because they are concentrating. This situation is a bit of both.

        As you say, every human being has a right to be judged as an individual, but every human being also has a right to be judged based on more than their ability to engage with unexpectedly outgoing strangers while exercising.

        • That’s a different argument, though. I don’t by that, either. If you are in public, then you behave like you are in public. Increasingly we see people cutting themselves off from human contact in the public square, and it is toxic to a healthy society. Sorry: we live here, we’re in the space, the community, the country. If you are outside of your personal domain, you have better be ready and prepared to participate.

          • Conversely, don’t people have a right to go around in public without people bothering them? What kind of participation are people obligated to engage in? Conversations with random strangers who approach them? Listening to people who are trying to get them to sign petitions? What about street preachers? Homeless people asking for cash? People offering free hugs?

            People are exposed to all kinds of other people in public, but in the city, if you’re busy or have somewhere to be, it’s not impolite to fail to engage with any of them, because there are just too many of them. There’s no natural limit past which you can just focus on what you’re doing. If you’re standing around waiting in line, I agree it would be rude to fail to return a greeting. Running could go either way. I could see someone having time to wave, but I could also see that they might have something on their mind and not want to be distracted by greeting everyone they run past.

            There’s a self-help exercise to get people accustomed to rejection where a person stands in public offering free candy. Most of the time they will be declined or ignored, and that’s normal and acceptable. It seems like greeting people in public should yield much the same effect.

            • As usual, this quickly deteriorates into wording and definitions. The deterioration of comity and tolerance in society is directly traceable to the loss of both the perceived necessity of interacting socially with all of society, and the loss of skills to do so. As with all ethics, one has the right to snub the world, but it is not right to do so. It makes the community/society/ nation a crummier, lonelier, more hostile place.

              • Ah, I see. This is actually a compassion versus honor dichotomy. Not quite the same thing as empathy versus semantics.

                Honor is compulsory ethics, while compassion is voluntary ethical behavior that is important but cannot be required, such as charity. I would hold that engaging with random strangers in public cannot be required as a matter of honor except in small communities where it is actually practical to do so. However, I agree that public engagement is something that people in general should make an effort do in order to raise and maintain the quality of life in society in general. Fair?

      • Small v two r, there is no i in valkygrrl.

        And if that’s what you think of me, perhaps you should reconsider that trade I offered.

        • Anyone who has a screen name that I have to repeatedly check to avoid misspelling it has to accept what they get. Mister Mxyzptlk had the same problem.

          Now, I know you know the crucial difference from my opinion of you and my opinion of one of your comments.

          • There’s a chance that your unknown opinion of me might actually be accurate.

            Your opinion of my comment is flat-out wrong.

            • I don’t understand how you can say that. You intimated that women are justifiably wary of men they encounter, because they are men. That’s the definition of bigotry: regarding an entire group negatively based on stereotypes and the worst conduct of individuals who are not typical of the group.

              • Congratulations, you’ve now sunk to the same level as Michael West by implying that a specific setup applies to all encounters with men. Do you know why I didn’t mention women who stop me in the dark when there’s no one else around? Because it doesn’t happen.

                Women have every reason to be wary of men who attempt to initiate contact in the dark in the almost rain with no one else around. Especially when those men choose to ignore body language that says go away. Men who disregard her boundaries.

                The mere fact that you tried to initiate contact with someone who didn’t want it puts you in the wrong. Your choice exemplifies the attitudes that lead to the worst conduct you allude to. She should have done the thing you wanted because you wanted it?

                Do you want praise for only partly living up to the stereotype? Since you didn’t ask for her number that makes it okay? That you didn’t yell ‘you bitch’ as she ran off makes it okay?

                Sometimes Jack, you talk about ethics. And sometimes you talk about your individual life experience or father’s teaching and call it ethics. But just because it worked in your life doesn’t make it the gold standard of ethical conduct. It’s not unethical to fail to meet someone’s eyes. I almost never do it, it’s uncomfortable. It’s not unethical to be wary of strangers when it’s dark and there are no witnesses, it’s not unethical to fail to engage someone who disrespected you by ignoring clear signals.

                • As I said: bigotry. Also get your facts straight:

                  1. It wasn’t dark. It was early evening, but still light.
                  2. I still say hello to people I meet in the dark.
                  3. The civil ones say hi back.
                  4. There was no “body language that said go away” unless you want that to be the default message of any woman outside alone.
                  5. This wasn’t a back alley. This was in a virtually crime-free affluent Northern Virginia neighborhood surrounded by houses and directly outside of a church. Oooooo—SCARY!
                  6. Since your characterization of the episode is completely fiction, inaccurate and false, it really is irrelevant and useless. Why not go all the way and say I was wearing a mask and carrying a machete?

                  • 1:

                    It was cloudy and rumbling, and Jack Russell Terriers are notoriously difficult if they don’t get at least one good walk every day. So I decided to try to beat the rain and get Rugby out for a swing around the neighborhood. It kept getting darker, windier,

                    Emphasis mine.

                    2: Perhaps you might deign to adjust that to fit circumstances instead of keeping it as a hard and fast rule.

                    3: Perhaps you might deign to adjust that as well to fit circumstances instead of keeping it as a hard and fast rule.


                    he had that cold, stony, “I don’t want to acknowledge anyone” look on her face that so many younger people cultivate today.

                    That’s body language. She did not wish to interact, you knew she did not wish to interact. That didn’t matter to you.

                    Not cool.

                    5: And? People there don’t bother strangers, don’t make unwanted sexual advances to strangers, don’t yell at strangers and don’t ever assault strangers? Is this the burbs or fantasyland?

                    6: See quoted text. You’re changing your story

                    • 1. Getting darker does not mean “dark.” I speak English, and write it too. It’s getting darker right now. It’s 12:49. I also said it was windy. Did you assume that we were in a hurricane? Because then my raisn comment would have made no sense at all…
                      2. Conceded: that’s body language.
                      3. Should a black citizen who sees body language from a white stranger that says “I don’t want to be in the same universe with you” try to break through that social wall? I would hold that they should. My mother, who was outgoing and friendly, complained that seniors were invisible, and young people “looked right through them.” And I said, “Don’t let them do that. Make them acknowledge you.”

                • The mere fact that you tried to initiate contact with someone who didn’t want it puts you in the wrong. Your choice exemplifies the attitudes that lead to the worst conduct you allude to.

                  See what progressives have done to society where you live? /snark

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