Last night a stranger mumble-yelled at me. I think.

I was waiting to transfer buses. It had been a crazy day of fire alarms and wild weather and slight chaos, and I was happy to be on my way home, checking in on the events of the day.

I was looking at my phone, checking Twitter. Dude was walking by, mumbling his commentary about the world to nobody in particular. Apparently he said something complimenting my feet. His mumble-commentary continued, and eventually I realized he was berating me for looking at my phone and not responding to his compliment. Mumbling to the world that I was a bad person because I didn’t feel the need to respond to a compliment about me that was directed to the sidewalk.

I ignored the mumbling and got on the bus. If there was additional mumble-yelling, I didn’t hear it. But on my walk home, my brain wouldn’t let go of the incident. I was annoyed and frustrated. Not by the comments, but by the implication that I should have responded. That my choice to not talk to a stranger – who hadn’t actually spoken to me – somehow left me as the one who failed the social niceties test.

I don’t mind people making comments. I don’t mind acknowledging comments if they’re actually addressed to me. But I do mind the insinuation that I was the less civil person in this interaction. The insinuation that because he offered a mumblement, a mumbled-compliment, I was obliged to respond.

Did I let it go? Of course. Is it a big deal in the larger picture? Not really, although the attitude it represents still annoys me.

I do have one thank you for MumbleDude: mumble-yelling fit perfectly in a song I was writing last night.


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