We all know it's rude to stare. But not all staring is meant to be rude.
|I live with a visible, physical condition that makes me somewhat stand out from the crowd. Which is to say, from time to time, I get stared at.
I also have a less visible, processing condition that means I sometimes need to look at something for several seconds before I understand what I'm seeing. Which is to say, from time to time, I stare.
Sometimes I stare at buildings, trying to work out which parts of what I'm looking at belong to the building, and which parts belong to the rest of the world. One time I saw a featureless warehouse, the same colour as the clouded sky, with its name painted in big letters just below the roof. I spent almost a minute trying to work out how the name had been painted on the sky.
Sometimes I stare at traffic, unable to tell how far away things are, or how fast they're moving. Cars that slow down when I'm looking at them really mess with my calculations, though I know they're trying to be helpful. Lights-controlled pedestrian crossings are my lifeline.
Sometimes I stare at people, trying to work out if I know them or not. Or work out the cut of their coats, or their boots. And sometimes, the people I stare at have visible disabilities. This earns me some very dirty looks, along the lines of I expected better from you, of all people.
Sometimes I stare at nothing, trying to work through a particularly tricky puzzle, such as which day of the week it is, or whether I was going up this road, or down it. Sometimes, people walk into my line of sight, and get stared at by accident.
So when people stare at me, I smile at them. Because maybe they, too, are just trying to work something out.