Why Loitering is good for you.

So I loiter at this gas station a lot. A chain gas station, nothing special. Owned by Jackson's. The only thing that makes it special is the fact that it is open 24x7.

I loiter there for various reasons, most of which stem from boredom. I go there and basically stand and watch people, and talk to the night shift guy and chain smoke. Pretty basic stuff. The roots of it lie in my theater background. I used to sit in tea shops all the time and observe people, and their mannerisms and how they would walk and what not. You can actually learn stupidly large amounts about humanity by doing exactly what I do. Also, I talk to people. Keep in mind that I am there after 2 AM usually. I have had amongst the most insightful conversations about life with people coming in. I talk to meth-heads, single moms, homeless people, graveyard shift workers, cops, you know, all sorts of people. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, here is this thing that happened a while back:

Day before yesterday, I was talking to this girl who came in at 3 in the morning, to use the restrooms in the back. Apparently she was a regular. I started talking to her. Just graduated from high school. I was bored and she was bored so we started chatting. I asked her what she wanted to do with her life. Dental Hygienist, she replied. Now, no offense to dental hygienists, but I don't think that is something people dream of being. So I asked her what she wanted to do, again. She replied that she wanted to travel “to Paris, London, France, Rome, Australia, and Italy.” I commended her on her knowledge of Geography, and asked her what else. She said that she wanted to make jewelry. At his point I noticed that her body language was really cagey, probably because of my prying. However being an inquisitive person, I asked her something to the order of why was she feeling tense. She replied that it was obvious that I would not notice, because I was a guy. On further inquiry it was revealed that she was just cagey because it was late at night and she was alone. She then left.

Now I don't think that on the first glance that there is anything that was spectacularly eyeopening in the conversation. However I would beg to differ. Think about it this way. Why was she cagey? Because she was alone. But then I too was alone. I wasn't cagey. I was relaxed and at ease. Why? Now the female reader would immediately realize where I was going, but to illustrate to the gents who read this blog, I ask you a question. What precautions do you take to prevent sexual assault? In a manner, there lies the problem with this place we call home. We still can't make our environment a place where women can feel safe. Men can feel safe almost anywhere, because it is pretty much bred into us. And then from that place I started thinking about how it is assumed that women are the “weaker sex”, and how is it manifested in our culture. Today,  in our feminist educated days we try to be gender neutral, we have this concept of chivalry and all the things that come hand in hand with that. You know, the stuff third wave feminists would call the oppressive patriarchal nature of our society. Why so, though? In a manner, what we males are doing is being condescending towards women by doing all those things. I grew up in a society where feminine modesty was a big deal. Not the burqa, but just general behavior. I would never swear or talk about sex in front of women, because it was just not done, and thought of as bad manners. But then if you think about it, its not like women don't talk about sex. Then what this concept of “feminine modesty”? Are we as a society trying to protect women from that infamous “Male Eye / Gaze” by taking the patriarchal ideas and just covering them up and calling it good manners? Quite a lot to think about from just a snippet of a conversation at a gas station late at night, eh?


-Rahul Sharma