I’m a woman whose close colleague suddenly learned that her mother who lives overseas was very ill and needed her to visit for at least a week. While rushing to organize her flight, my friend handed me two tickets for a play opening a couple of nights later, meant for herself and a friend. She then hurried out the door.
Three days later, I checked the tickets, and went by myself to the theatre where the play was being performed. Imagine my surprise when a man - a complete stranger to me - sat down in the seat beside me. I asked him where he got the ticket, and he mentioned my colleague’s name and her mother’s illness.
But I was uncomfortable. I’m alone, and he’s a stranger to me. Though the play was interesting, I couldn’t focus on it. I got up quickly at intermission, to avoid having to chat. Then he found me, a wine glass in his hand, and asked if I’d like one, too. I shook my head and bolted into the women’s washroom.
Towards the play’s obvious ending, I stood up abruptly, moved to the aisle, muttering, “sorry, sorry,” and quickly found an Uber outside.
Back home safely, I was flustered and shaking, wondering why my workmate would put me in a situation that could’ve been very unpleasant, or even worse.
What do you think of her lack of concern about me?
Your friend was rushing, anxious about her mother’s health. She took the time, thought of you, and gave you tickets to a play she thought you’d enjoy, so they wouldn’t be wasted.
Since the man who sat next to you was her friend, and not a stranger to her, it was unlikely that he’d harm you, her colleague.
You used the “stranger danger” phrase, which makes me wonder why you were so fearful of this man even offering you a glass of wine.
I get it that today’s busy urban neighbourhoods do present some worrisome situations, and anyone skittish on their own should be thoughtful of where they go alone and under what circumstances.
But fear can be more restrictive than just meeting someone you don’t know, especially when your friend trusts him to join you without incident.
Perhaps when she returns, your friend will inform you about the man in the next seat. I’m hoping you’ll be reassured of her good intentions.
I’m also hoping for your sake that, while some caution is wise when meeting an unexpected stranger, it’s equally important to convey your own self-confidence, and recognize the difference between an aggressive interloper, and someone whose seat was, accidentally, next to yours. However, if you’re past danger triggers your fears, a consult with a therapist would be very helpful.
FEEDBACK Regarding “Dance Dad” who’s wondering what to do with a daughter who loves dance, but he felt she isn’t that good at it (June 21):
Reader – “I had a similar situation with my daughter who loved music. She took private lessons, practiced continually, and loved playing in public. But she had absolutely no rhythm.
“She played well enough to get into an art-based high-school, giving her the opportunity to explore many different forms of artistic expression. I’m so glad that I never told her what a bad musician I thought she was.
“This writer’s daughter’s love of dance is just the beginning of her deciding what comes next. Let her enjoy it and see where it goes.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the obese adult son (June 17?):
Reader – “The father can try to help his son, but obesity is a medical issue, with medical remedies that people simply don’t think of because they’re judgemental instead.
“That father needed to hear this: ‘Get your child to a doctor who specializes in medical weight loss, not fad diets.’ They will prescribe weight-loss management drugs to help his son get started.
“They’ll help him understand his triggers and manage them so that they don’t destroy his self-worth.”
Ellie - The father’s letter indicated that his son, in his 50s, felt isolated by the pandemic and returned to overeating foods that gave him passing moments of happiness, then deep disappointment at having stopped his former successful weight-loss program.
Yes, medically-based diets can be effective and should be tried. But regaining his personal drive to lose weight has the strong possibility of boosting his self-worth.
Tip of the day:
If you’re triggered by past traumatic events, professional therapy can be helpful.