“Can you watch my stuff?”

10 12 2009

This isn’t so much a pet peeve as it is a curiosity about a question I truly don’t understand. I was sitting at long table inside the reading room of the Humanities and Social Sciences library in midtown yesterday when a guy leaving the table for the bathroom asked a girl sitting next to me if she could watch his stuff. People do this all the time at libraries and cafes and any other environment in which strangers sit around each other and read or do whatever else it is people do at libraries and cafes. But the whole process doesn’t make sense.

Why would someone assume a stranger would watch their stuff? There has to be a decent percentage of people who ask this question, receive a “yes” from a person whom they’ve never seen or spoken to, then walk to the bathroom doubting their request will even be fulfilled. So then why ask the question in the first place? Adding to that thought, there is no doubt in my mind there is a sharp divide between the people who ask this of strangers and those who think it’s an utter waste of time.

People who don’t ask might already assume most people will naturally watch and protect someone’s goods if they sense a robbery is taking place. See, most people are good-hearted in the sense that they have a basic desire to help people. Most people.

I feel that the people who naturally want to help others won’t be any more motivated to watch someone else’s goods just because they’re asked. They naturally take it upon themselves to make sure no harm is done.

On the other hand, someone who truly doesn’t give a shit definitely will not be influenced by a “Can you watch my stuff?” question by someone they’ve never met and probably don’t care to meet. You can call that person an asshole if you want. I just figure that people, at least New Yorkers, are sometimes so busy with their lives that they don’t want to make themselves responsible for a situation every time they’re in contact with another person, even if that contact is as simple as sitting across the table from a stranger. Make sense?

For those of you reading this who ask strangers to watch your stuff when you have to pee, do you really believe that person will watch your stuff? Or do you ask it for your own peace of mind, knowing that you’ve done what you can to ensure your stuff is guarded while you’re away?




2 responses

10 12 2009
Page Seven

I don’t get when people do this either. I’d personally never do it. If I don’t know the person, why would I think they’d safeguard my things? And I don’t want someone to ask me either – I’d just tell them no.

Also – this would be a great Curb Your Enthusiasm. Imagine: Stranger asks Larry to watch his stuff, and Larry says no. Stranger gets all upset and Larry yells about how he’s not going to put himself in danger for someone he doesn’t even know. It’d be great.

10 12 2009

Yeah, that’s a good point. Surprised he hasn’t thought of that. He could also play off the favor-for-a-favor thing with Mocha Joe. Like, someone could ask Larry to watch his/her stuff, he does it, the person returns and asks for Larry’s email/number so the person can ask Larry to return the favor someday.

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