I am the sort of person who, it seems, is readily mistaken for an authority figure in real life. I’m regularly accosted in shops by people asking me where to find certain items, who are then disappointed to find that I don’t work there, and I’m just as frequently the ‘go to’ person for complete strangers to wander up to and ask for advice, whether it’s the fairly understandable and mundane request for directions, to the more esoteric and off the wall requests, such as ‘Do you know where the queen stays when she’s visiting this part of the country?’ – yep, I was asked that one by a complete stranger just recently.
I’m not sure why it should always be me that people turn to, especially since I’m always the one to be singled out even when in a group of far more obvious people. Let me give you a rather bizarre example from recently: Picture me, trying hard to relax on a super-crowded train, on the second leg of a 6 hour journey home after a long and hard week working away from home. I’m alternating between dozing off, trying to get comfortable and failing to pass the time by fiddling with my tablet, when – completely out of the blue – I feel a tap on my knee. The tapper turned out to be a gentleman sat across the aisle from me, with whom I’d had no prior contact or interaction, he leaned forward conspiratorily, and pointed at a rucksack in the footwell of the seat next to him…
Random gentleman: “I think he got off the train and he’s left that there!”
Me: “Oh dear”
Random gentleman: “What should I do?”
Random gentleman: “It’s just that they do tell us we should report these things. I mean, you can’t be too careful, can you? What if there’s a bomb in there?”
At this particular moment in time, I was less concerned about the possible presence of a bomb on the train than I was about the fact that of the hundred or so passengers sharing the carriage with me, including the two people sat across the table from him, and a whole train crew somewhere on board, this particular individual had singled my knee out to tap, and decided I was the most qualified person to deal with his concerns out of everybody on the whole train!
Was I wearing a high visibility vest, t-shirt with the words ‘Bomb Technician’ emblazoned across it, military fatigues or any sort of uniform or other designation that might have indicated I was the most appropriate person to speak to? Nope! I wasn’t even the person in the closest proximity to him, or the rucksack in question. Yet, for some unknown reason, Yours Truly had somehow assumed the mantle of public safety and security expert, without even knowing why or how. And, yes, this is precisely the story of thing that happens all the time.
Thankfully, at just that moment, the guard appeared at the end of the carriage, and my random stranger gratefully accepted my sage advice to present his concerns to the guard, which he did. Quite what the rucksack’s owner made of all the fuss when he returned from the toilet a couple of minutes later later, I don’t know, since I was making a spectacularly successful attempt of feigning sleep by the time he returned, and mercifully managed to avoid any further freaky exchanges for the rest of the journey home.
Thankfully, occurrences of this nature may happen rather too frequently not to be slightly alarming in RL, they are few and far between in SL, where it seems I have no air of authority whatsoever. In fact, even when I do hold a position of inworld power, influence or expertise, its amazing just how frequently I’m overlooked, ignored or just simply not considered as someone you might approach for help, advice or for a decision to be made. It’s certainly not something I’m complaining about, since SL would feel far too much like it was an extension of the real world, as it pretty much what I do on a daily basis in my real world job, (in addition to being the resident bomb and royalty expert in any given situation!). It does feel a bit weird though, especially when I’m with people who know me well, yet still manage to avoid approaching me when it makes perfect sense to do so.
My inworld friends often joke about how scary I am, but I’m beginning to wonder if there might be more than a grain of truth in what they’re saying. Certainly, I can be pretty forthright and honest in my opinions and advice and I don’t suffer fools gladly, but does that mean that I really do come across as frightening, or is there something more subtle at work here? Personally, I like to think that maybe there is… I know that I can be extremely self-confident, and that I’m capable of demonstrating a fair degree of strength of character – which, incidentally, is the end result of some testing times and a lot of soul-searching and hard work on my part. I never used to be that way – but I do think that not only can that be intimidating to some, but it can also be evident without being specifically expressed. I won’t say that I ooze confidence, but I’m sure that it must come across at times, even when I’m not trying.
Perhaps that’s why random strangers on the train ask me for advice about explosive devices, and perhaps that’s why I’m such a scary person inworld.
But, I’m a pussycat really!
I am the power of a woman, strong like music, true like friendship, but without my friends, there would be no music, only spoken words.
My Ruin – Terror