My airplane next seat companion the other day was a Greek woman in her late 30’s. She narrated her life story in a three and a half hour rant (Stockholm-Athens) and was interested to know everything about me as well. I have to admit that during the last year in Sweden she is not the first Greek woman I have met in her late 30’s that seemed to be utterly nuts. It goes like that: You meet this person who in less than two hours needs to tell you all their personal drama. Why everybody is against them when they have been so great, supportive and selfless? Why everybody is so wrong when they are so right? She confides in me like she knows me for years (nervously trying to engage my attention at all times by fixing her angry goggled eyes on me) and she already behaves like a best friend. She wants to know my e-mail, my phone number, my Skype address, my horoscope, my height and weight, and is my hair color natural? But what she is really after is my own “secrets” and “confessions” in exchange for her own.
If our “friendship” survives more than this 2 hour trial (and that because of my unforgivable Libra tolerance and my criminal mistake to empathize with her situation) then it is likely to break up one day very soon, suddenly and violently Don’t ask the reason, there will be none. None real at least. I will be estranged, wiped out of her contact lists and comfortably put where I belong: on the other side of the fence with the horrible, cold, selfish and unappreciative “rest of the world”.
Having been burned before by my own naïve tolerance I just need to share this piece of advice: as soon as her crazy angry rant begins (usually involving incredible conspiracies against her, secret cameras and phone bugs that she accidentally discovered one day in her apartment) please start running away. ASAP. Don’t even be polite enough to nod or hear the end of the story. And for God’s sake don’t allow yourself to think her confessions are “honest”, “cute” or even entertaining.
If for some cruel game of fate you have to sit listening to her for the next 2 or 3 hours, brutally punished by your own good manners and upbringing, start humming a tune in your head. Some happy Mozart perhaps. The unconcerned relaxed facial expression you will have during this exercise will deter her no doubt. She will start thinking sooner than later that you are “one of them” and will lose interest in you.
I have written before about toxic people. The reason I find this idea fascinating is because for many years I did not believe there was such thing as toxic people. I kinda thought all people should be given second and third chances to prove themselves. And at the end of the day people will treat you like you treat them, right?
True, we are all humans, we say and do things wrong all the time. But just as all rules have an exception so is this: when you meet a nutcase just start running away. Drop your intellectual, religious, philosophical, psychological, social and moral nonsense and do yourself a favor not to step on this piece of doody on your way.
Yes, your shoe can be soon clean again, but a slight stench of shit will always be there to bring up the memory.