A city resident was unsure how to react today as he took a rare walk in the countryside and found himself faced with friendly, relaxed looking people.
It happened when systems analyst Pete Humphreys from Dublin was on a business trip to Killarney.
“It freaked me out to be honest,” said Pete. “People nodded and smiled even though I didn’t know them. Some even started talking to me for no reason.
“I’m used to people who avoid speaking to strangers or even making eye contact so in a way it was nice to see a friendly face but also a bit confusing.
“Part of me wanted to talk to them but at the same time, I didn’t want to get dragged into a conversation with some yokel and then find they were a country psycho killer so I kept staring straight ahead.
“After a while I relaxed and felt myself being drawn into it in spite of myself. I wanted to nod to someone myself but it’s tricky to know when and how. It starts with an initial glance and you have to decide whether the other person wants to nod or not. It’s embarrassing to smile and then be ignored.
“I got the hang of it eventually but there was one uncomfortable moment when I smiled a bit too much at a young woman and asked where she was going. She looked startled and hurried off. I ran after her to explain but that made it worse and she dialled the police. I think she might have been from the city as well.
“It was a relief to get back to Dublin so I could start ignoring everyone again, but when it came to it, I couldn’t.
“On the way home I saw an old woman drop her shopping bags and all her groceries rolled out into the street. In the past, I would have pretended I hadn’t seen her and hope someone else stopped to help her, but I don’t know what came over me.
I found myself stopping to help her and asking if she was ok. She was grateful at first but I think the visit to the country may have confused me. I found myself being extra friendly. I asked her if she wanted me to help her carry her bags home but instead of looking pleased, she started to panic, like as if I was some crazy psycho.
“I tried to reassure her but she started screaming that I was trying to rob her…so I dropped her bags just before an angry crowd gathered and tried to grab me.
“Only just got away. What a nightmare. Not going to the country again.”