One of my new favorite past times is participating in focus groups. I don’t get chosen that frequently, but when I do I definitely love it more than I should.
I get paid a decent amount of money to give my opinion and run my mouth about something for two hours. It’s kind of an ideal job.
I was waiting on the bus downtown to go to a focus group that started at 8 pm. I was bitching all day about how I really didn’t want to be out and about that late on a Monday, but I knew I’d enjoy it, and it would be worth my time once I got there.
I stood, waiting on my bus when a man came over and stood closer to me than I would have preferred and started playing hacky sack.
I wondered if I’d somehow taken a time warp into the ‘90’s or if this was simply a new level of stoner.
If he routinely played hacky sack, surely he understood it was socially unacceptable to play 3 feet away from me. Particularly when I’m the only one around.
Finally the inevitable happened. He kicked the hacky sack wrong and it came rolling over a few inches from my feet.
I glared at him, saying nothing, and achieved what I believe to be the highest level of accomplishment I’ve ever reached with my resting bitch face.
Without saying a word, simply by staring at him, I got the the man to look at me, apologize profusely, back away, and put the hacky sack up.
I wondered if this was how my night would go. It was already starting out weird, and I just wanted to be back in my apartment under a blanket watching tv.
I walked past what I thought was the building I was going to for my focus group downtown. I casually strolled by, looking in the door, but it looked more like a fancy apartment complex and no one was inside but a man at the desk.
I decided that must be the right place once I ran into the end of the block. So I turned around and watched as some woman walked through the door.
I followed her. Which I realized must seem weird. Me pulling a 180 at the end of the street. And then walking right through the door behind her.
I then proceeded to trail her to the elevator, not helping my case.
Once we were in, she hit the button to the exact floor I was going to, so I decided to lessen my creep factor by asking if she was heading to the same focus group that I was, which may not have helped, but I hoped did.
Any damage repair I may have done by confirming we were, in fact, heading to the same place was quickly undone when the only seat left in the waiting room was across from her.
Then I got anxious filling out my paperwork. I was going to be sitting in a room for two hours with no bathroom breaks, so I knew I needed to make a trip to pee before it all got started.
I figured once I finished my paperwork, I’d run to the restroom. Unfortunately I wrapped up my questionnaire around the same time as the woman whose shadow I had become. We walked up to the desk to turn in our paper when she asked the location of the bathroom.
“Fuck.” I thought to myself. Do I wait and then go when she comes back? I can’t follow her to the bathroom after I’ve been right next to her since we’ve walked through the front door.
So I sat back down for a minute, then got anxious when minutes passed and the old focus group exited. I couldn’t be waiting for a stall and then miss my group.
I went to the bathroom and crossed paths with the poor woman who I’m sure was now afraid of me as she was washing her hands.
I made sure not to sit next to her once we got into the actual focus group. I sat and spouted my thoughts about ads for the next two hours, listening to both Mason and Jayson who worked for tech companies and sat next to each other run their mouths as well.
Two hours later I made sure to postpone leaving until after the woman I was creeping out had already left. I couldn’t afford to look worse than I already did.
I missed my first bus, but waited 10 more minutes for the next one to show up, glad this weird evening was over.
As I walked back to my seat my heart sank when I looked up and saw the same lady on my bus.
Somehow I’d become an accidental stalker. I watched as she avoided eye contact with me and prayed that she wouldn’t get off on the same stop as me. Or live in the same building as me. Since that’s where this seemed to be going.
Luckily I was less creepy than the man who started cursing the Virgin Mary after getting on board, detracting from my stalker vibe and helping me save face.
I managed to get off at my stop and she stayed on the bus. Maybe because she saw me get up preemptively, claiming the stop as my own and not following her actions.
Seattle is weird. But while I sit back and judge the weirdness like the crazy bus man and the hacky sacker, I also realized that this evening I had contributed to this factor by scaring the shit out of a strange woman by consistently being in the wrong place at the wrong time.