I Am Not A Stalker

As most of you know, last week I attended SXSW in Austin. The interactive portion of the show is an amazing collection of some of the most creative minds in interactive media. However, I’m not really very good in social settings. I have always felt somewhat uncomfortable in large groups, but I have noticed more of an awkward feeling as I got older. So, I purchased, How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds by Nicholas Booth. Now before you judge me, it was very high on the Audiobook section of itunes. I noticed it and thought maybe it could give me some tips.

I got a chance to listen to it while in Austin. It offered suggestions on how to give a proper hand shake, and quickly building rapport. I wasn’t sure that any of these things were going to work, so I decided to try it while in Austin. i had spent 3 of the 4 days there keeping to myself and only associating with either my friend Russ who attended the conference with me, or people on the panel with me. I decided that on day 4, I would make a friend using my new found social skills.

Of course I spent most of the day not really following up on this, and I was certain that I wouldn’t actually introduce myself to anyone. But then before the last session, I spotted a young woman looking through the crowded hallways. She looked like she was looking for someone and she was heading right toward me. I don’t know why she seemed like a good person to introduce myself to, but I decided to go for it. I approached her and said, “Hi, my name is Ed. How are you?�. She looked surprised and quickly shook my hand saying her name was Andrea. She looked familiar, so I asked if she was in a pervious session with Dan Gilbert. She said that she hadn’t. That was my first shot at building a rapport, and it failed. So, I tried again and asked which session she was going to for the final session. She told me she was going to the Bruce Sterling session. I asked a little about it, and she ensured me that he was a very interesting speaker. I asked if this was her first SXSW, and she replied that it wasn’t. So, I asked if she saw Malcolm Gladwell last year, she responded that she had. This was going well I thought. She said she was going to fill her water bottle up before the show, so I said goodbye and headed to the Bruce Sterling session.

After a very boring hour listening to one of the most pretentious, boring, self-absorbed jack asses I have ever heard, we were all paroled and allowed to leave the room. I made a point of following up with Andrea and asking if that was really interesting for her. She said that he was much less boring last year, and not such a downer. As we walked, she headed toward the bathroom and disappeared without a word. I think I was ditched. My ego was intact, and I figured that at least I made an introduction.

I met up with Russ outside of his section and he decided to purchase a book. They happen to be selling the books right outside of the bathrooms. So of course when Andrea reappears, there I am standing there. She quickly pretends to not see me and walks in the other direction. That’s twice I was snubbed.

So Russ and I head downstairs, where I have to pick up a couple of t-shirts I promised people. As I’m leaving the facility†¦that’s right, snub #3. At this point I think I was also creeping her out.

After being snubbed three times by the same person, whom I honestly just wanted to meet, my ego was in bad shape. I had an early flight, so I headed to bed.

The next morning I got up at 4:45 to get to the airport for a 7am flight home. I live in Ashland, so I had a layover in San Francisco. I sat at the gate listening to my iPod; more how to get people to like you nonsense. They finally start boarding and as I approach the gate I see a familiar site. Yes, it is Andrea once more. She looks at me in total horror. “Wow, this is weird.� I said. “very� she replied in a suspicious tone. I guess she thinks that I purchased a ticket on her flight so that I could stalk her some more. And of course we end up sitting a row apart. I quickly switched from my book to The Art of Happiness by the Dalia Lama.

As the flight continued I started thinking about the situation. Was I so horrible of a person to meet? I guess I could see why she was a little creeped out, it’s one hell of a coincidence. But still, how rude of a person is she? And why does the fact that she thinks I’m some sort of weirdo stalker guy make me feel that I’m being creepy? I decided to try to make a joke out it as we got off the plane. As the plane de-boarded, I noticed her behind me. I got off the plane and turned on my cell. I knew she lived in the area, so I figured she would head straight to the baggage area. I pulled out a card. I figure maybe is she sees I have an actual job and life, she will understand I’m not some weirdo.

I see her come up, pass me by without a word, and then head into a store. The escalator to the baggage claim is right there, but she went into a store. Then I notice her glance over at me. She is waiting for me to leave before she goes to the luggage area! I went into the store, where she seems to be ignoring me some more. I handed her my card and said, “it was nice meeting you. I have to grab my next plane, but maybe we’ll see each other next year.�. She took the card with an uncomfortable smile, and I left.

I don’t know why this whole thing bothered me. I guess I just would have thought it funny if I wasn’t snubbed so many times in a row. I understand that she probably thought I was coming on to her, or maybe even a little creepy. But honestly, get over yourself. I’m some guy speaking at an interactive conference, who happened to be on the same flight.

Either way, that’s it for me trying to meet new people. I’m worried that any more attempts in trying to engage strangers in conversation will lead to a restraining order. From now on, I’m back to being the standoffish asshole I always am. If you don’t like it, take it up with Andrea. Seriously†¦follow her home and take it up with her!


  1. I have the same response whenever anyone asks me about men I met in a bar.

    “I was drunk, and not in control. And it doesn’t make me gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that.”

    Seriously, if anyone is interested, I met three very cool guys in the bar in Austin. They, like myself were a little disappointed about the content of some of the sessions. I’m sure I’ll pick better session next year.

  2. Ed,
    Don’t stop engaging in conversation with strangers just because one woman doesn’t recognize she just missed out on getting to know one awesome guy (you) that could carry on conversation that would blow her mind in such a witty, intellectually stimulating, and interesting way. It was her loss, not yours.

    Don’t miss out on finding the women that do recognize a talented guy when they meet one. I applaud you for introducing yourself and giving someone a chance to get to know YOU. I think the way you handled it with the business card at the end, was an excellent closure, yet still an opportunity for her to pursue you is so desired. Awkward for sure, but Perfect…

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