I was working my 2nd job job today, which for those of you who don’t know, is in a small, French bric-a-brac shop, and after a few uneventful hours, a peculiar family came in. They were an arabic family; a man, two women, and a small girl. I was about to find out just how friendly the father of the group was.
In they walked, and immediately the little girl started smiling and looking around and being excitable and curious and generally displaying all the characteristics that one might call ‘childlike‘. The two women however, who were both in niqãbs and burqas, began silently taking pictures of every inch of the store, which they continued to do for about ten minutes. These three were interesting, but certainly not the main antagonists of this story. The man whom they had come in with, presumably the husband of one (or both?) of the ladies, walked straight up to the desk and just stood there smiling at me. I acknowledged him and smiled and said ‘hello’, but he didn’t move a muscle. I tried looking away, but when there’s a man standing less than a foot away from you, smiling in silence; it’s a little tricky. He eventually began wandering around, occasionally picking things up and putting them back down, but he would always circle back to the desk to smile straight at me in silence, and there are only so many ways that you can do the whole ‘smile, nod, look away‘ thing before it starts to get really awkward.
Anyway, as the two ladies continued quietly taking pictures, the man picked up a bar of soap, that was sat next to a big sign with the price written on it, and asked me how much it was. I walked over to check the price and thusly pointed it out for him, and as I lowered my hand, having just pointed out the price, he shot his arm up to stroke my wrist. It was weird, but I kept my cool, all the while screaming in my head at the awkwardness. I then turned to walk back to my desk, and he made a gesture to shake hands with me, which I politely complied with; however after what I can only describe as ‘a loving caress‘, he apparently decided that he didn’t want to let go of my hand, and as I slowly pulled it away, he let his fingertips trace down my aforementioned hand, until he had just a little pinch of my middle finger, before letting me go. I managed to keep my cool that time as well, but my neurones were already rigging charges to blow my brain out of my skull.
They then continued as they were; the ladies taking pictures, the man smiling at me, the little girl being normal and adorable, with the occasional event of the man (presumably her dad?) holding on to her arm, meanwhile still staring and smiling directly at me from across the store, and then left after about ten minutes without having bought anything.
So… That was all pretty gosh darn weird, right?
Oh, and just so I’m not misunderstood, none of my discomfort was in relation to their being Arabic, I was merely pointing that out to help you picture the scene… The actual discomfort came from the creepy, smiley, middle aged man who tried to feel up my wrist.