Had a cute girl encounter today. I even gave her my number (sort of).
I went to the apothecary to buy some of these nice cloth masks, because I was tired of buying single use masks every day. It's more economical to get some cloth masks and wash them after use than to buy a new mask every time. Also more convenient.
Anyway, as I walk out, I see this desperate looking girl asking people if they have any cash to give her in exchange for a web wallet transfer. Nobody has any cash, including me, because virtual wallets using mobile have become so popular here that cash is basically obsolete. I buy bread at the local store in my commieblock basement with mobile phone transactions.
She looks to me and asks me if I have 2000 tenge in cash. I notice that her left eye is red. She explains that she needs to get back home outside the city, and her phone is about to run out of charge. "Why not withdraw some from the ATM? There's one a few blocks up", I say. She says that she's left her card at home. "Oh well, I can't help you, then. I don't carry cash", I say.
A few moments later, a tinge of guilt springs up in my chest, and I address her again. "Look, I could walk with you to the ATM, and you send 2000 tenge to my account while your phone still has charge. I withdraw, and give it to you. How about that?" "Oh, that would be wonderful". Her voice is filled with gratitude, and she whips out her phone and asks me for my number so she can send the money (virtual wallet transactions in the local web wallet service are done with phone numbers here).
At that moment, my autism flares up. "This is not according to protocol," I think to myself.
- Wait, why won't we get to the ATM first, and then you send the money? Aren't you afraid that I'm going to run off the moment you do the transfer?
- Oh, I am sure you won't run off - she laughs- , so what's your number?
At this point, I am confused. I've read enough articles about game theory to know that assumptions about the intentions of the other party do not matter. Assuming perfectly rational actors, it is the optimal self-benefit of the outcome of the interaction that determines the value of an action. But I did not want to cause any more awkward tension, so I tell her my number, and she sends me the money.
"It's only a few blocks up" I repeat, as we start walking. My city, Almaty, has a local system of specifying directions. Since the city is at the foot of a mountain, "up" means towards the mountain, and "down" means away from it. Incidentally, "up" is where the fancy places are, and "down" is where the poor people live. I live in the downward part of the city, and commute upward to my workplace. People don't generally parse it when I use cardinal directions to refer to locations, as it's just not really used here. So I've learned to use local nomenclature. Being a neet who used to leave the house only a couple times a year, and only familiar with the city layout through maps, cardinal directions is what I think about normally. But this is one of the cases when one has to adapt.
These are the thoughts running through my head during our walk, when I realize that it's been a minute or two of silence. Feeling that one ought to have a chat while walking, but having no idea what to talk about, I ask, "So, what's up with your eye?".
"Oh, that's the thing, I went to the doctor to check it out and they said it's viral conjunctivitis. So I went to the apothecary to buy balm and eye drops they recommended. It's SOOO expensive!".
"Oh, yes, the Central Apothecary sure likes to hike up the prices." I concurred. "I went to check out some bathing scrubbers while I was here, and they were 3000 tenge each. Ridiculous!"
"Wow." She said, and a few more minutes of silence ensued.
During that time, I couldn't help but notice that my newly bought cloth mask was expanding and contracting like a frog's vocal sack with every breath cycle. "It must have pretty poor air transfer rate. I probably look ridiculous", I thought to myself.
Unable to bear the silence, I, again, chimed in with "Cold today, isn't it? Was much warmer a few days ago. That's Almaty weather for you." An "Mhm" is all I got.
Finally, we made it to the ATM. I went up to it, withdrew the money, then gave it to her. She thanked me, and we went in opposite directions. Me, back in the direction of the apothecary, because before this encounter, I was on my way to the local doner place to eat, and I was getting mighty hungry by now. I made no eye contact as we bid our farewells, as I almost never make eye contact. And that's was my social encounter for the year.
Ah, about the number. The virtual wallet thing we use in this country only uses numbers as "tokens" for making transactions, it doesn't actually save them. It does save the first name of the recipient or sender in history, as well as show their photo, if they chose to upload one. Anyway, later that day I went to buy some bread and milk at my commieblock basement store, and in my transaction history page, I saw that the red eyed girl had a profile photo, in which she was in a white dress, next to some dude in a suit.
t. totally not lonely at all