Every reader goes through this. We’re enjoying our book in a public space and someone walks up and starts a conversation because, clearly, we’re just waiting for them to talk to us. Usually these people are someone we don’t know.
Reading while traveling can be an exercise fraught with invasion of privacy. Some people don’t understand why I travel alone, and most really don’t recognize that I welcome the solitude.
I was a member of the local NHL team’s booster club, which was also on this trip, but I wasn’t traveling with them. We were on a cruise ship in Alaska, and I would often encounter someone I knew. When I’d traveled with them before, I would get comments about how sorry they were I was traveling alone. Sometimes people would try to “adopt” me so I wouldn’t be alone. It’s a completely foreign concept to them, this wanting to be alone.
One day I’d been sitting at a table in the pizza restaurant completely absorbed in Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush by Lael Morgan. I hadn’t been paying much to my surroundings until this guy from the booster club saw me and sat down at my table while saying, “Oh you’re not doing anything. I’ll sit here.” Like he was the gift of companionship I’d been anxiously awaiting.
As an introvert, I don’t think well on my feet to begin with. I could have said something like, “I am doing something, I’m reading.” But no, I didn’t say a word. I was also one of those women afraid to say anything for fear I’d be viewed as rude. No one taught me that other people were often being rude to me and I could say something.
So, mouth agape, I looked up from my book. Mind you, it is obvious that I’m reading, the book is wide open on the table and my head is inches from it as I read the salacious tales of the women making their living the only way they knew how during the Yukon Gold Rush. It has always surprised me when people think reading constitutes “doing nothing.”
He didn’t ask if he could join me or what I was reading. He just sat down and launched into talking. After a few awkward minutes, my pizza was ready and he wandered off.
People, seriously. If you see someone reading, and you do not know them, do not interrupt them. Readers are perfectly happy being left to their reading. Do not just walk up and start talking because it’s rude. Really rude. If you do know them but they aren’t expecting you, ask before you sit down and start talking.
While most readers appear mild-mannered, some will resent the interruption and make you forget who your mama is. It might be tempting to believe they’re really just waiting for someone to talk to. Don’t give into the temptation that you are just the person to rescue them. Trust me, you’re probably not.