Over lunch a few weeks ago, my friend Andrew told me, “DON’T BE A THROW RUG!”
I stared at him, wide-eyed and puzzled until he remembered that the American slang is “doormat”. Apparently, ‘throw rug’ is the German equivalent.
If the floor fits, wear it; I took Martha Beck’s Doormat Quiz, and it confirmed what friends have said for years; I let people walk on me. Nay, I practically encourage them.
Late last night, I went walking at the college track. Ambling under the stars is a wonderful meditation, plus it saves a fortune on sunscreen. Because the track’s fountain is inconveniently located (and somewhat icky), I bought my aluminum water bottle along and parked it on the ground.
After I’d walked my first mile, someone turned on the floodlights at a nearby baseball field. “Awww, curses,” I thought, “Now strangers can see my shiny water bottle.”
Sure enough, by the end of my next lap, the bottle was gone. I squinted into the darkness, looking for thieves. Was it one of the four Indian girls? No, they were empty-handed. The hulking giant with a flat-top? No, thankfully. Across the field, I saw a flash of copper. A shirtless man on a cell phone was hustling toward the fence with my bottle in his hand.
In the past, I’d have let him go. I’m shy, and dread confrontation the way polar bears do climate change. Besides, nice girls don’t accuse strangers of stealing, even when said stranger obviously has.
Niceness be damned; that was MY water bottle, and he was getting away.
“Excuse me!” I called.
The shirtless man kept walking. I observed that his muscles had muscles.
I tried again: “EXCUSE ME!”
He’d almost reached the exit.
I broke into a run. Only when he was five feet away did I realize that he was 1) a head shorter than me and 2) one of my old computer lab patrons. What luck!
Mr. Shirtless looked up from his phone, surprised. “The water bottle with blue flowers?” I asked. He handed it over, saying “I thought someone had left it behind.”
Now, I don’t believe he meant to steal anything— but whatever his intentions, the bottle WOULD have disappeared if I’d kept my mouth shut.
Friends, my doormat days are drawing to a close.