On Being Mugged

Last week I was watching a TV show on my computer, ear buds in my ears.  Across the room, Dearly Beloved was watching a concert the same way on his computer.

No wonder the dog sleeps all the time.  It’s too quiet around here.

We talk… we don’t talk… we’re comfortable either way.  Still,  I decided we need to get out more, interact with people.  I announced that I was going to try one of the many churches around here.

Becoming more social is not that simple for me.   I may be an e-mailing maniac and yes,  I occasionally start conversations with strangers in checkout lines, but put me in a situation where chatting is a good thing  and I’m quieter than Clint Eastwood’s Obama chair.

Dearly Beloved volunteered to go with me on Sunday.

The decidedly untraditional church buildings sit on a large, woodsy lot almost hidden from the street and they look like a school or small office complex.   The modern architecture was such that even after attending it,  I’m still not sure where the front door is.   We asked a man in the parking lot where to enter and he pointed us to a door between two buildings, then directed us to a visitors’ table, where we were asked to fill out a RED name tag which designated us as visitors.

During the service, visitors were asked to raise their hands, in case the red name tags weren’t visible to all.  The minister invited all visitors to join them for a welcoming coffee and fellowship afterwards.  DB and I nodded to each other, indicating that we would do that.  Social interaction coming right up.

Just inside the entry to their fellowship hall, another visitors’ table awaited.  We were instructed to take a YELLOW coffee mug just for visitors, just in case the members missed the visitor hand raising during the service and the RED name tags we were wearing.

We wandered around the perimeter of the room, sipping coffee from our YELLOW mugs and talking to each other as everyone stood around in groups.  We decided we’d go out for brunch afterwards.  Dearly Beloved asked could I hold his mug while he went to the restroom.

While I was standing there by myself, I  noticed a couple of choir members on the other side of the room.  I headed in their direction to introduce myself and tell them that I enjoyed their music, but they turned and left through one of the doors before I reached them.  (Walking with two coffee mugs is slow going.)  At that point I was standing in the center of the room, wearing  my RED name tag and holding a YELLOW coffee mug in each hand.  There was a 15-ft. circle of emptiness around me.

It felt as if there was a spotlight on me and indeed, as I glanced over at a couple leaning against the wall, I read her lips as she said, “I guess we should go say something to her.” 

She came, he didn’t.  “Nancy” introduced herself and told me she had two teenagers, rolling her eyes to indicate there was heavy stress involved in that endeavor.  About that time, DB returned from the bathroom and took back his YELLOW coffee mug.  He introduced himself to Nancy and joined the conversation.  Within the first 30 seconds he said, “I have video of my grandson making the winning shot at his basketball game Friday night if you’d like to see it.”

The look of horror that passed over that woman’s face is unforgettable.  In fact, she may have been so traumatized enough to change churches.  DB hastened to tell her he was joking… but of course he DID have the video, just in case there were any takers.

Nancy looked around for her partner, who had furtively slipped past us and was waiting for her by a door.  Could have been the front door.  Darned if I know.

We left by a different one and had to walk around the block to find our car.

Afterwards, we stopped for brunch at a neighborhood cafe.  Shortly after we sat down, DB and some of the other diners began calling out names and years to guess the singers on the 60’s recordings playing on the restaurant stereo.   Our waitress joined in the banter.

The place felt friendly and welcoming, which was odd.  No one was wearing a name tag.

12 thoughts on “On Being Mugged

  1. Carol Ray

    golly Mary that IS SO GOOD!!

    Carol Ray

    >________________________________ > From: Merrilymarylee’s Weblog >To: mscarolray@yahoo.com >Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 12:46 PM >Subject: [New post] On Being Mugged > > > WordPress.com >merrilymarylee posted: “Last week I was watching a TV show on my computer, ear buds in my ears. Across the room, Dearly Beloved was watching a concert the same way on his computer. No wonder the dog sleeps all the time. It’s too quiet around here. We talk… we don’t t” >

  2. What an awkward situation! In our church, visitors are greeted as if they’re long-lost friends. We can’t wait to pounce on you and tell you about our videos!

  3. I always wear a forced name tag upside down. This post made me a little angry. This church needs to take a lesson in welcoming vistors and ditch name tags and mugs. I can’t imagine you would seem unapproachable. The lady didn’t even have the manners to take the hook your DB threw out to her as in…”hey ask me about my grandson.” Don’t go back…I don’t like them. :-/

  4. Libby Neves

    Thanks, in this ELECTION YEAR, or haven’t you heard? I needed to hear about your mugging experience.
    Most of the things I laugh about aren’t fit to print. Now I feel cleaner, coffee stains and all!

  5. Those settings with my big name tag on me feel like I am out of place, which I am. I prefer the restaurant with the banter, and nooen caring what your name night be-

  6. NCMountainwoman

    What an inhospitable gathering you seem to have found. Give me the coffe shop any day. Our Catholic Church here is the most warm and fuzzy one I’ve ever seen. Too much so for my liking. Such hospitality is fine during a reception, but during the service?

  7. you would have gotten a better greeting from the “greeter” at the Walmart…..try mingling at the post office next time….anybody will talk to you there about how horrible the service is and I bet they would even want to see the kids video….

  8. Oh oh oh–I wish you lived in our town AND came to our church. I am a through and through introvert. Put me in a room full of people I don’t know, and I shrink to the side of the room.
    BUT at our church, I know how it feels, so as soon as I see someone I don’t recognize, I greet them. I say–are you new here? So glad you came. What’s your name. Please come back.
    Oh, and we don’t make visitors wear name tags OR use different color mugs. Being friendly is more than making people identify themselves–as your story so painfully illustrates.
    And–the end of my story is that people I talk to do come back.

  9. Here via Absence of Alternatives.

    I had a similar experience at a church some years ago where I dutifully picked up the striped mug and stood there all by my lonesome for ten minutes or so, before leaving. I’m good in situations where people are sitting around a table or something like that, but in crowds, I just can’t make myself approach people.

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