Gentlemen: Lay off the Google

When I was on my way to Ireland a few months ago, I met a guy from Dublin at a bar in JFK. He offered me some tips on the best things to see and do while I was in his city. He seemed nice enough and I thought nothing more of him until I checked my email the next day and saw that he had sent me a note on Facebook. He included this post script:

P.S. I’m not a stalker. I forgot to ask for your contact details at the airport. I googled your name and your company.

Here is some really great advice: If you ever find yourself justifying completely inappropriate behavior, then just stop what you’re doing. If you forgot to get a phone number at the airport, just chalk it up to a lesson learned and move on. The powers of Google should only be used for good.

In any case, I should have thanked him for the warning. Now I know that my first name and employer is all that’s needed to identify me through a basic online search. That’s advice I could have used this past fall when a guy on the 6 train told me that he liked my shoes and asked me out. I found something about him off-putting, but couldn’t quite decide what. I gave him my number anyway on the theory that it takes guts to talk to a stranger and that I was, in fact, wearing great shoes. Besides, he worked at Credit Suisse – I have faith in their screening processes.

I won’t bore you with the thousand annoying and creepy things this guy did during the few hours that I knew him, but let’s just say that the least offensive moment was when he demonstrated how to clean a wine decanter with a hanger and a paper towel. In other words, my instincts were right. After a few attempts at telling him (somewhat) politely to lose my number, I did it for him. I hit the old block-a-roo. I had to – he wouldn’t shut up.

So imagine my surprise when I heard from him on Monday night in the midst of the Snowpocalypse. He sent me an email to my work account – which I can only assume he found by Googling my name and employer and then finding my contact details on a press release.

“Hope you’re well! Just wanted to see how you’re making out in the snow.”

Unbelievable. First of all, the only thing you have to do to survive a a snowstorm is to stay inside and drink wine. If you’re not doing that, then you’re really just over-thinking it.

Second, if I were in need of assistance during the storm this guy would be one of the last people I would call for help. In fact, there’s a guy on my block who I exchange pleasant hellos with every morning. He walks three pit bulls at a time and wears a ski cap even in the summer. There’s a sign on his basement hatch that has a picture of German Shepherd and says, “I can make it to the door in three seconds. How about YOU??” I would sooner go knocking on his basement door than place a call to the lunatic who’s spending his evening hours browsing press releases and disregarding boundaries.

“He needs some advice,” I said to my friend. “I hope he finds someone boring and patient to give it to him.”

But it won’t be me. I’ve got better things to do… like sit around under a blanket while eating popcorn and watching a video loop of my newborn nephew hiccup. Am I being mean? Perhaps. But if you feel so bad about it then you can help him find his way out of the crazy pool. I’ll even give you his email address.


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