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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

Midtown Humanity On Parade, Vol. 3

Submitted by on June 11, 2007 – 5:38 PM110 Comments

When it comes to crying in public in New York City, you have two schools of thought: 1) that it's terribly lonely and sad that nobody ever stops to ask after the cryer; and 2) that it's a freeing relief that nobody ever stops to ask after the cryer.

Both schools assume the same thing, which isn't in fact true; I've battled various facial rainstorms and lost, and occasionally a stranger will inquire if I'm okay. But if that doesn't happen, and it mostly doesn't, it's fine with me — I really can't stand crying in front of people and the communal decision to pretend it's not happening is a gift, in my view.

But when I see someone else crying, I never know what to do. Would she like someone to check her okay, hand her a tissue? Would that little kindness, rote though it is, help her? Or is she like me, better left alone until she gets home and can put cold spoons on her eyes?

There is a girl sitting in Rockefeller Plaza right now, an Asian girl, and she is bereft. She isn't sobbing out loud, but she's not trying to disguise her tears, either. She's not even wiping them away, just letting them roll down. I kept watching her, thinking I should give her Kleenex and then remembering I didn't have any on me anyway. In the end, I just went back inside.

Weepers of the city: We haven't abandoned you. We see. We just don't know if you want us to.

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110 Comments »

  • Debi says:

    As a former public weeper, I suggest nice people like you can wordlessly offer a tissue. This lets the weeper know she's not alone, gives an opening if the weeper wants to talk, but doesn't force the weeper to give an explanation if she doesn't want to.

    In Seattle, you can pretend it's just drizzle on your face, not tears.

  • Jen says:

    I feel the same when I see someone I don't know crying in public. I always want to ask them if they are OK but I don't because I feel like it would be an unwanted intrusion.

    I have a childhood memory of my mother once pulling over the car on the highway to ask a woman if she was OK. The woman was walking down the road by herself crying and I think I remember being in the car watching my mother sit the woman down on a big rock and talk to/console her for an unknown period of time. I don't remember what the woman's story was or what happened next (we may have given her a ride somewhere?) but whenever the memory pops up I feel rather proud of my mom. I'm can't say with certainty that I'd take the time to do the same thing if I encountered a similar scenario. But then I never know what to say when someone is crying and my mom is great at that sort of thing.

  • Leslie says:

    I am such a public crier, it's not even funny (I spend a lot of time on mass transit). I always appreciate the sympathetic look and/or nod.

  • alh says:

    Good topic!!! I cry really easily (embarrassingly easily) and would always so so so prefer not to cry in public, but sometimes, especially living here, it can't be helped. A few weeks ago, I was crying on the train (bad news about a sick family member) and I really needed to just get home and cry it out. I thought I was covering pretty well – dark sunglasses, no noises, etc. But this woman across from me had been watching me, and as she stood up to get off the train, she handed me two Kleenex and put her hand on my shoulder for a few seconds. She didn't even say anything, or have to. I'd much prefer not to be seen in that situation, or field a stranger's condolences, but I thought that was a nice gesture.

  • Cathryn says:

    When I worked at a convenience store, there were a couple of times when I had a woman come up to the counter in tears and try to act normal. Each time I just quietly handed over a paper towel, which was gratefully received, and proceeded normally.

    The dynamic there is a bit different – since I'm already required to be paying attention to the crier anyway, it's easy enough to make a small gesture. It seems ruder not to, at least to me. It's less complicated than just encountering a random crying stranger.

  • autiger says:

    I was once crying on the DC Metro (because it was two days before Christmas and my flight home had just been canceled) and these two guys were kind fo talking about me rather than to me- I think offering me the option of responding or just being alone in my misery. I thought it was nice of them. I took the being alone route, because I cry maybe twice a year but when I get going, there's no talking- and man, was I sobbing. LOL! I called my poor brother to tell him the news and that's when I started. He had no clue what to do- heh! (I did get home, though- on Christmas Eve.)

  • Amelinda says:

    I've ended up crying in public once – it was late at night, I was on a long walk home from hearing a painful piece of news about my ex, and I figured no one was around so it was safe to sit on a doorstep and cry for a bit. Someone actually crossed the street to ask if I was OK and if they could do anything. I felt like an idiot, and I think they felt awkward too, but nonetheless I really appreciated the gesture.

  • gg says:

    People used to ignore me crying in public all the time. It would've been really nice, to say the least, if someone had sometimes asked if I was ok. Nobody ever did. It just made me feel worse. I've promised myself that I would never be that person, ignoring the weeper, but sometimes you just can't deal with it. But I think that's different from not knowing if somebody wants you to ask or not. I take the attitude that if someone's crying in public, they want some acknowledgement, even if they end up telling you to go to hell. Which I might've done. It still means that somebody cares at least that much.

  • Elizabeth says:

    These are nice stories. I hate crying in public, but WAY worse is fighting in public. I was in a coffee shop once that faced out on the street and I watched a couple in a car stopped at the light in front of me. They were clearly fighting and she was visibly sad. It was really sad and awkward to see even with them being physically separated by the car.

    To autiger: What were they saying when they were talking about you? I was having trouble picturing it.

  • Abigail says:

    I once found myself sobbing, surrounded by my luggage, outside an Office Depot in Paramus, NJ, after series of mix-ups involving an international flight, falling asleep on the bus from Port Authority, the people who were watching after my car being in the city so their dog could star in a commercial, and a bomb threat at said Office Depot (all of that, I promise, absolutely the truth). The women working inside the store ended up offering me some water, which was really kind, and a couple of folks stopped and asked if I needed help. I think I looked (and felt) pretty pitiable, and I appreciated the compassion, although I didn't feel it was strong enough to ask any of them to drive me the hell out of Paramus (no offence to what may be a fine township).

  • Allegra says:

    A few years ago I was in Venice, traveling with a friend of mine. I had never taken a trip by myself, my friend and I weren't getting along, and I was totally lost. I found myself a nice place to cry it out, and a really nice Italian woman came over and asked me what was wrong, gave me a tissue, and reminded me to just enjoy being in beautiful Venice on vacation. It made my day!

  • Sally says:

    I hardly ever cry at all but I was on the corner of 34th and Madison when I got a call that my grandfather had been killed in a car accident and walked all the way to Third Avenue crying while talking on my cell phone. It really was kind of comforting that no one seemed to think anything of it, because in addition to being upset over my granddad, I was mortified that I was crying walking down the street. To make matters worse, I was going to watch a football game with my school's alumni association and as I had just moved there the week before, I met a bunch of relative strangers with smeary mascara and a quivery voice and had to be the total buzzkill and tell them what had happened. They were awesomely understanding and provided tissues and liquor.

    On the other side of the conundrum, I, several times in college, silently handed tissues to girls I had never seen before that very moment, who were crying in bar/frat house bathrooms over relationship tragedies. I like the silent tissue give and nod of understanding. It's, for me, a kind of, "Hey, I've been there too" empathetic solidarity without crossing boundaries.

  • Lisa says:

    I just wanna say, what a beautiful topic.
    This is a feature of big city living, and nobody (except Radiohead and REM videos) ever acknowledges it.
    Living in an African city it is seldom that you will be left alone to cry in public… there are too many big mama's out there who know how to give the best hugs and shush you comfortingly…

  • alivicwil says:

    I'm a crier.
    I can't help it. I cry a lot. At stupid things. Then I cry for being stupid.
    People asking me if I'm ok just makes me cry more – even though I try not to. A tissue, a presence, a smile, or even a change of subject makes me feel better, and helps me to stop crying.

    Sars, your line "There is a girl sitting in Rockefeller Plaza right now, an Asian girl, and she is bereft" reminds me of a line from an Australian poem, 'An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow' by Les Murray. In particular, "There's a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can't stop him."

    I studied it at school, but probably haven't thought of it in the past decade (though I can still recite a couple of Les Murray's other poems). Can I just say "Thanks" for reminding me of it?!

    You can read the whole poem here: http://www.lesmurray.org/pm_aor.htm

  • Schmitt says:

    I took a trans-atlantic flight the same day as my childhood cat had to be put down. The nice French girl sitting next to me just tactfully offered some chocolate.

  • Molly says:

    I never know what the hell to do either! I don't want anyone to ask after me (I cry at everything; normally I'm not even THAT upset, it's just some automatic response, and I hate it), I just want to be left alone to cry. So usually I just pretend I don't see them. But then I feel bad for doing that.

  • Lib says:

    I had always thought it would be rude or intrusive to approach someone crying, until it happened to me. I'd just found out that my cat had died, and a lovely girl came up and asked me if I was ok. Somehow, it was reassuring to have a stranger care, and approach me, and since then, I've promised myself I'd approach someone in a similar situation.

  • Rebecca says:

    My feeling: Please just leave me alone – I'm trying to pretend I'm home in bed.

  • Jennifer says:

    I cry sort of easily, but one thing that really makes me cry is other people crying! This blog entry made me cry and I'm only picturing all these cryers. I think the next time I see someone crying in public, I will do the silent tissue offer since several people here said they appreciated that, but I'm going to have to be really careful not to cry when I do it!

  • Jaime says:

    A friend and I had this experience a couple of months ago. We were in the women's bathroom at our university, and a young woman came in. She went into a stall and started sobbing uncontrollably. My friend and I went through a "what do we do" pantomime before I finally just said, "Is there anything we can do for you?" The woman said no, then gave a choked laugh and said, "That was really nice of you." I've never felt more awkward than in that situation, but I'm glad I said something.

  • marykmac says:

    I try to approach people, if I've got the time and headspace to do it. I'm even more determined if it's dark, or if it's a really unpopulated area. Same with seeing someone collapsed or passed out on the pavement – I really hate the idea of featuring anonymously in someone's "so there I was, having just been attacked / had a fit / overdose / whatever but nobody stopped to see if I needed any help". I try to just do a really quick, "You all right?" and then, you know, at least you know you've tried. Maybe I'll be breaking someone's personal space bubble, but sometimes personal space bubbles get broken, and that seems much less worse than ignoring someone who's just had something really horrific happen to them and really needs a stranger's help.

  • mctwin says:

    A very good family friend, a psuedo-sister, had to fly the red-eye home from San Francisco the night my mom passed away. She said that she cried so hard, she fell out of her seat. The flight personnel kept asking her if she was okay and kept the alcohol coming. I'm glad someone could be there for her while we waited anxiously for her to come home.

  • elizabells says:

    One nice thing I've found about NYC – crying on the subway is almost guaranteed to get you at least one, if not several, seats to yourself.

  • Agnes says:

    A few years ago I was crying on a bench on a DC metro station, and a woman gave me a travel packet of kleenex and said, "men can be such assholes." The kleenex was useful, and I really appreciated being able to blow my nose, but that hadn't been what it was about- it did involve a boy, but I was crying over the frustration of opportunity cost, not bad behavior- and I remember feeling awkward and annoyed that she just assumed she knew what was happening in my life. So, good job on attention, bad job on delivery, I guess.

    There was another time, when I was working as a ticket-taker at a movie theater, that I'd been crying in the bathroom, and I can't even remember if it was about anything. I'm one of those people whose crying remains obvious for AGES, so it was pretty clear that I'd been upset. A guy and a girl (probably dating, so it was pretty clear he wasn't being smarmy) came through the line, and he asked me if I'd like a hug. Nothing more- no questions, no assumptions- and I said yes, and he gave me a hug, and it really did help.

  • MrsHaley says:

    McTwin's comment helped me put this in perspective … if my mom or my bff or, heaven forbid, my daughter (even thinking about her crying alone in public makes my heart shatter into a thousand pieces) were in this kind of situation, I would want someone kind to offer a little help until I could get there / find out / fix it.

    Except sometimes you can't fix it … isn't THAT the hard lesson.

  • Linda says:

    This is fascinating. I'm a crier myself, and I really think it's just one of those physical things, like whether you blush easily or your feet get cold. People can be at the same level of emotional upset, and one will cry and one won't, so I don't know that you're really obligated to do anything for someone who's crying any more than for someone who's just looking really unhappy, because the crying person isn't necessarily any more upset.

    But the problem with that theory is that when you're crying and you know everyone can see you, it can feel lonely that nobody seems to notice, BUT it can also be mortifying to feel like people do notice. In other words, I don't think a crying person demands attention because she's obviously so distraught (what makes me cry has to do with lots of things other than how distraught I am), but because we don't have a social script for dealing with it gracefully. I think that's what makes the "wordless tissue" a really nice option. It says "I noticed," and it says "I care, in my stranger-like way," but it also says, "We won't draw attention to it." It also creates an instant, tiny bond, in that it sort of says, "You and I, we know you're sad, but we don't need to bring all these other people into it or say anything out loud." I think that's the other reason it feels good.

  • Laura says:

    I cry all the time, at everything, and I hate it when people respond in a way that makes me feel like even more of a freak. I've been the girl sitting on the subway in silent tears before and it sucks, and no one has ever said anything to me.

    In college I came across a girl from my dorm crying and smoking one day, and it was weird because we weren't really friends and I wasn't sure I knew her name, but we had a pass-each-other-in-the-hall acquaintence. I asked if she was all right and she told me her grandfather had just died, and I told her I was sorry and gave her a hug (which… I am not usually a hug person, but whatever). Then told her that my dad had died a few months before and I hoped she was okay. It was a weird moment because seeing her public grief reminded me of my private grief. I felt obligated to say something, because I was keeping my pain a secret and it sucked. I dunno, I think it made us both feel a little better.

  • Duana says:

    I don't mean to change the mood but I have to share this story…

    Late one night, I broke up with a guy at a restaurant on a super-trendy street in Toronto – held it together until he got a block away and then sat down on the stoop of a store to cry it out.

    I'd been peacefully alone for about five minutes when a woman stopped. "Excuse me" she said. I wasn't being particularly private, so I wasn't altogether surprised. I turned my face up toward her.

    "Where did you get your shoes?"

    It crystallized the phrase "I didn't know whether to laugh or cry". Better yet is that she stood patiently, waiting for my answer. I blubbered out "P-p -Portugal" , and then she nodded and headed on her way.

    City living.

  • attica finch says:

    If I'm crying due to my ridiculously sentimental response to Newsweek's 'My Turn' essays (which I always read on the train, and I always cry — goddamn you, you manipulative editors!), I'd just as soon be ignored.

    If I'm crying due to real sadness, I'd like some acknowledgement. Not much, but an 'are you OK?' or a shoulder pat would be welcome. But not so much as a hand-hold. That would put me off.

    Of course, there's really not much way for other people to tell the difference. Therein lies the rub. But I never go anywhere without tissues, so at least I'm covered in that regard.

    Sniff!

  • Kat says:

    I think the "Is there anything we can do?" line is usually a good idea. Most times, there isn't anything you can do, but sometimes the person who's crying is at the end of their rope and and could use a non-judgmental ear. My sister and I (in stark contrast to our parents) are both big weepers – we can keep it together in crisis situations, but sometimes there's just one little thing too many and we bust out with the uncontrollable waterworks. One time I was stranded at the airport in Switzerland, and I was tired, hungry, unhappy to be leaving the friend I'd been seeing, and at the same time really homesick. When I found out that my flight was going to be delayed by half a day and there was nothing I could do to get on an alternate route, I just lost it. Fortunately, this nice couple, who were about 10 or 15 years older than I, decided to check on me, and we ended up going to the airport restaurant for some food while we waited on our delayed flight. As usual, higher blood sugar levels made everything better, and it was really nice to have someone show concern at a time when I was feeling very alone. (By contrast, I think my sister would have preferred to be left alone under similar circumstances; but I agree with the person above who said that a brief and respectful intrusion is much preferable to ignoring someone who may be in need of comfort or assistance.)

  • Ruth says:

    I've been both weeper and witness. As witness, I usually offer a tissue and see if I can help. When I was the weeper, that reaction is appreciated.

  • Ann says:

    I'm the non-crier type Linda described, so this has never happened to me and I've never really given it any though. But the next time I'm at the check-out, I'm going to grab a pack of travel tissues just in case I happen upon someone in a moment of despair.

  • Kathryn says:

    I'd rather not have people ask, because if I'm crying in public I'm either a) reading something sad that makes me cry, and that's always embarassing to explain, or b) trying desperately to hold it together until I get home, and talking about the sad thing usually makes me cry even harder. I've cried a couple of times on the T, and when people have asked if I'm OK my response was so unintelligible that they kind of sidled away.

    But it's different for everyone, and I've never resented being asked, I just feel bad for those doing the asking.

  • Abby says:

    Like Jennifer, this whole entry has made me cry. (That and the fact that I just dripped pad thai all over my shirt.)

    If I were crying in public, a wordless offer of tissue or a pat on the shoulder would probably make my day.

  • Andrea says:

    Because I'm a very private person, I used to just look the other way when I saw people cry in public. But one night I was walking down the street with a guy friend in London, and we passed this woman who was so distressed, I couldn't help myself.
    Turns out, she'd been pick-pocketed at a club, had no wallet or cell phone and couldn't get a taxi driver to take pity on her. We got a cab for all three of us and took her home before we went back to the flat. Now I always ask if the crier is OK because, as marykmac said, that person could really be in trouble!
    My guy friend, though, had an interesting perspective – he said if he were alone, he would NEVER approach a crying woman because he'd be afraid she'd see him as a threat. I've heard similar comments from guys since, and it makes me wonder when an act of kindness became so easily misconstrued….

  • Kate says:

    I've cried in public before, and have been both ignored and not, but I prefer being ignored. It's the great thing about NYC, to me – the anonymity and the privacy of it. So if I cry in public, it's not that different to crying in private. In most cases I just call my husband, anyway, and cry to him over the phone.

    Although once, along the lines of Duana's story, I was crying in Union Square, I can't remember why, and someone stopped me to ask directions. And although I was obviously upset, I told him where to go, but for whatever reason he wouldn't let up and tried to start a general conversation about NYC tourism and travel or something. I finally had to tell him to please leave me alone.

  • Elena says:

    When I used to take the late bus home from work, someone was always crying (which prompted me to refer to the route as "The Trail of Tears"). Most of the time I just let the weeping gals cry, since I figured they might not want a stranger approaching them on public transit at 1 in the morning. I told myself that staring out the window as if I didn't hear gut-busting sobbing three feet away from me was the kindest thing I could do, though I did occasionally offer sympathetic looks.

    I can count the number of times that I have wept in public, and the response that nearly drove me crazy once was when an older gentleman looked at me and said, "Smile! You look like you just lost your best friend!" I know that he was trying to be kind, but I had honestly just found out terrible news about my best friend (starts with "c" and ends with "ancer"), and I didn't want to be told to cheer up.

  • Jennifer M. says:

    If I were the cryer, I'd prefer just the silently offered Kleenex, because I turn even more red when I'm crying in public, and I just want to hide somewhere. But an "are you okay?" is also appreciated.

    Actually, I cried a little when reading this, because it reminded me of when my mom died. My dad was having a moment alone with her in her hospital room, and my brother and I were out in the hall, crying. The gentleman who had the room across the hall from her came out (in his bathrobe and wingtips) and shook our hands and just said, "I'm sorry." I was so touched that someone who was obviously in ill health himself (this was the "cancer floor," and he looked rather frail) took the time to come out and offer comfort to strangers. I've never forgotten him.

  • Jill says:

    When I was 19, I was in a minor-but-upsetting car accident in the mall parking lot. My state was made worse by getting into a fight with my dad on the phone, and I wound up bawling my eyes out in the shoe department at J. C. Penny. An older lady was really nice to me, but the thing that made my entire day better, and that still makes me smile almost a decade later, was the little girl–maybe three years old–who saw me, left her mother's side, and came over and put her tiny arms around me. It was the sweetest thing, and the best public-crying comfort I've ever gotten.

    So, yeah. Stranger-comfort is nice sometimes, but it may be best coming from small children, who don't know enough to judge you.

  • Annie says:

    I'm tearing up a bit hearing about all this. I'm more of an almost-crier: I'll tear up (like now) but can usually manage to make it without a spill-over. One day, though, I was at my job, which I had loved and had begun to hate due to the management policies. My grandma had died a few months before and I was still having trouble with it. One day I just broke down at work and went into the bathroom to cry. The HR manager came in (she's a woman too, just so you know) and took me into her office, where she explained that I'd been missing too much work lately and if I went home early today I was invited to stay there. Then she said I could take a 15 minute break, so I went to the park across the street, curled up against a tree trunk, and sobbed. A guy I'd never seen before pulled up on his bike and asked if I was okay. We ended up talking for a long time about how much work sucks, and religion versus belief/spirituality, subverting the dominant paradigm (…seriously) and I ended up feeling much better. That job was in a different city than where I live and work now, so I've never seen him since that day, but he gave me back some of my lost faith in humanity. Since then, I try to give some attention to people who are upset in public, because when it happened to me, I was changed. I'd like to happen to someone too.

  • Jennifer says:

    In Seattle, we have kinda odd "public space" manners–It's considered more polite not to comment on weeping in a public place, as if trying to give you the room to pretend you're in private. When I worked at a vet's office, a couple of men came in to make an appointment for their dog. When we asked if they'd recently moved to the area, one man replied, "yes, from New Orleans." (This was only a month or two after Katrina.) He paused, and than both men just started to cry. We instantly showed them into a private room, and I mean instantly. It was just an instinctive "oh, you poor thing, I know you don't want anyone to see this." So it may not be callousness but simply the "way" of the area you happen to live in.

    alivicwil, that's a beautiful poem!

  • Rosmerta says:

    At a low point in my life, I took to visiting a nearby church on my lunch break and a couple of times just sat there weeping. I felt more lonely and unhappy because it seemed as though no one noticed. A friendly inquiry or a Kleenex would have been really appreciated.

    Reading this thread, it seems clear that as awkward as it can be, people in distress really do appreciate others reaching out.

  • Lauren says:

    There are some really nice stories here – thank you all.
    Back in the boom, I worked a dot.com, and long hours/crappy conditions/bad fit for me resulted in my sobbing at my desk very late one night. My desk was off by itself a bit and no one noticed…until our PR director came up the stairs. She took one look at me, came over and knelt beside my desk and was just really, really nice (which only made me cry harder – I never can take it when people are nice to me). Then she asked, somewhat breathlessly, "Is it…. Is…is it…Tatum?" And I sort of choked and started to laugh, because seriously? Not even on my radar. She may as well have said Tony Blair or Maddox Jolie-Pitt for all I knew Tatum, but apparently she thought he was quite the heartbreaker. Least I stopped crying.
    I also always, always cry at the Revlon Run/Walk for Breast Cancer. I do it every year with my mom and best friend for Mother's Day and even though I know it's just a fundraiser – I just sob every time. Kindness can make me cry. Awesome.

  • Molly says:

    What an excellent topic! Oddly enough, my most recent public cry was BECAUSE of NYC. It was my first trip, and being from Nebraska, it was extremely overwhelming. Without telling anyone, I'd tacked the trip onto a legit work conference in Philly. Bad idea in retrospect. I probably shouldn't have snuck away. Everything that could have gone wrong (train being delayed by an hour) did including getting busted by my boss on the train ride back to Philly. After getting off the phone with him somewhere near Trenton, I just lost it.

    I was exhausted, I was in trouble, and the poor kid sitting next to me was trapped against the window listening to me sob. After a couple awkward moments he caught my eye and said with a smile, "soooooo first trip to New York?" I couldn't help but laugh. We ended up talking the rest of the trip, and he was such a sweetheart. He really saved my sanity that day.

  • RJ says:

    Elena: Being told to smile when you're upset is the worst. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. Let me be sad, dammit!

    By far, my most awkward public crying experience was at the Port Authority last year. I was having a super crappy day to begin with, I ended up having to take a cab in an attempt to make my bus, but I missed it anyway. I cry when I'm frustrated, so I ended up sitting on the floor, crying, on the phone with my best friend. Two men approached me: a uniformed police office and a plain-clothes police officer. They very nicely asked me to get off the phone and show them ID. Apparently they had to make sure I wasn't a runaway. Assured that I wasn't underage, they gave me a bus schedule and wished me well. I was completely embaressed, but I was able to laugh at how ridiculous it was later on.

  • Rosmerta says:

    Jill, I wasn't crying before, but your story about the 3-year-old just made me tear up. Kids are the greatest.

    Andrea, your guy friend's perspective reminds me about the need to be cautious. It's just possible not only that your offer of help could be misconstrued, but that (to turn it around) the crier could be someone who wants to take advantage of the first sympathetic person s/he can find. So do be careful everyone … though I doubt that happens much, if at all.

    Thinking about what Andrea's friend said also makes me remember a really idiotic thing I did once while just trying to help someone. A blind man was standing at an intersection looking very confused and upset, and I went up and TOOK HIS ARM while simultaneously asking him if I could help him. He shied like a spooked horse, and no wonder. So I've been a lot more sensitive ever since to the need to approach strangers as unthreateningly as possible … especially if THEY CAN'T SEE YOU.

  • Sarah says:

    One of the guys I work for used to make me cry at work (he's still a jerk, I just deal with him better). He'd always do it over the phone and he'd get me right wound up at the office. The office is open concept, no cubicle walls, so everyone can see/hear everything. I would do the blink-the-tears-away-while-looking-up but that never works. And it would make it worse if someone asked if I was okay. What I always appreciated is the immediate bombardment of emails I'd get from the other assistants in the office that said "jerk" "jackass" etc. It not only made me feel better, it would make me laugh; that after cry, caught off guard, hiccup laugh. It's nice to know you have people are your side. :)

  • CB says:

    Two years ago, a coworker and I were on a business trip in NYC. That morning before we left the office she had found out her fiance (they were less than two weeks from the wedding) had been cheating on her with her cousin. She held it together for the business meeting and then spent the rest of the day weeping in Grand Central Station, walking down the streets, in cabs, the subway, etc. I don't know if it's because I was there with her and she was clearly not alone, but no one gave her a second glance or seemed to notice her very obvious pain. At the time she was grateful to not be noticed in that condition but afterward she commented on how odd it felt to be surrounded by so many people and have not one person offer so much as a sympathetic look.

  • Michelle says:

    I honeymooned in Ireland and we damn near missed our plane ride home to the U.S. out of Shannon Airport. Stupid hedgerows; you never have any true idea how long it'll take you to drive somewhere. We showed up at the airport already in panic mode and then there was a HUGE line to check in; I got convinced we would never ever make it on to our plane.

    So I started coming unhinged then, but somehow I didn't really lose it until we did make it onto our plane (just) and found that because we were so late we were seated in separate rows. I asked a flight attendant if there was anything that could be done and she wasn't at all sympathetic (didn't say it was my honeymoon, maybe I should have). I took my seat, in a center seat of course as the flight was packed, and just lost it. I'm fine flying, I guess I was just all wound up and emotional and WANTED TO SIT NEXT TO MY HUSBAND COMING HOME FROM MY HONEYMOON IF THAT'S NOT TOO MUCH TOO ASK.

    This is how I learned about the "etiquette" of plane crying. The people around me couldn't pretend they didn't see me and they couldn't get away. Someone thought he had the solution though. He offered me a Valium (I declined). To this day I wonder if he offered it to calm me for my own benefit or for his. No one else said anything.

    (Mind you, on the way TO Ireland, at Baltimore, our flight out had been cancelled due to a maintenance issue, with our stuff already on the plane and they wouldn't give it back. So the first night of my honeymoon was spent brushing my teeth with my finger in an awful airport hotel in Linthicum, Md. I cried at BWI too. I'm probably on some kind of Aer Lingus no-fly list now.)

  • Bobbe says:

    I had a 7 month old. I was flying from Atlanta to Indy. I was by myself with the 7 month old in a sling that wasn't working for me. I had checked my luggage but I still had the diaper bag and a car seat. A stewardess had chewed me out for not bringing a carseat on the plane, the last time I had flown a few months previously, so I wanted to bring the carseat. It was way too heavy for me. I wasn't allowed to bring a luggage cart past security. So I was literally kicking the carseat in front of me through the airport.

    I got to my gate– and it wasn't my gate. I had gone to my seat number instead.

    I sat down on the floor in the middle of the aisle, with my baby in my sling in my lap, put my face in my baby's body and cried. and cried. After about 5 minutes a businessman came by and asked if he could help me– and he carried the carseat for me to my gate. We got there literally as they were calling final boarding.

    Thank you, whoever you were.