Life and stuff: The etiquette of crying in public

the-etiquette-of-crying-in-publicPlease blame Twitter for the fact that you are getting two back-to-back doses of my amateur philosophy this week.
I asked whether I should blog about a) boobs, b) wine, or c) crying in public and the Twitterverse came back with a unanimous c).

Crying in public. We have all done it at some point. I did it last week. I was sitting in the foyer of the Diamant Hotel in Kings Cross, stealing their wifi, when an old friend texted me something that made me cry. A lot. To the point of having snot running down my face.

I didn’t have a tissue. I didn’t even have a large receipt that I could MacGyver into a nose wipe. I just had to sit there surreptitiously secreting facial juices in the hope that the friendly Americans opposite me would continue bitching about the download speed and ignore the weeping crazy lady.

What exactly are you supposed to do when you are crying in public. Pretend you have something in your eye? Smile and act like your best friend just had a baby? Or just get it over with and not worry about the people around you?

What do you do if you see someone else crying? Extend a helping hand? Stare at the wall and play a grown-up game of statues?

I am an empathiser of distortionate proportions. ANZAC Day kills me. I can’t bear funerals. I cry in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition whenever a dugong so much as looks at a drag net. I really do feel your pain.

What do you do when you see someone crying in public? Do you ask them if they’re OK or should you leave them alone? Have you ever had a major sob fest in a open space surrounded by strangers? What the hell are you supposed to do? I hope you weren’t reading this because you thought I had any answers for you …

Comments
7 Responses to “Life and stuff: The etiquette of crying in public”
  1. Doug says:

    I didn’t get the question or I would have voted for a), one of my all-time favorite topics.

  2. Rachel says:

    Crying in public, only marginally less embarrassing than tripping over and falling flat on your face.
    Not sure which is worse though crying uncontrollably while trying to find a cab on New Years Eve, or getting weepy and emotional in front of a new colleague in a pub. Sorry to say I’ve done both.

  3. Genevieve Frew says:

    Crying in public should definitely be embraced, not just by the cryer but by the surrounding cryees…(?)
    If life is all about the yin and the yang (and I’m never sure which is which) and we are all human (except for those medical receptionsists), why shouldn’t we be just as accepting of crying in public as we are of smiling and laughing in public. Both extremes of emotions make us who we are, and sometimes they become indistinguishable.

  4. aims says:

    I’m an ask if they’re okay-er, I’ve been shouted at and told to f*** off occasionally, but i can’t just see someone distressed and not say anything. Some people appreciate someone caring awwwww

  5. Lisa says:

    I’ve really only cried in public once, and that was after a relationship break-up became all too much for me while walking home from failed house-hunting…the walk became a very fast trot so I could get home double-quick and stop the weeping…would have been mortified if anyone had stopped me or asked if I was okay! Maybe that’s the distinction – if the person is on the move, they probably want to be left alone. If they’re weeping in the foyer of the Diamant Hotel in Kings Cross, maybe you need to ask if they’re all right… @Aims – I too have asked a stranger in distress if they’re okay and been waved away, but at least we checked, eh?

  6. Lisa says:

    Oh, and a funny (funny-strange, not funny-haha) story from the opposite side of the coin – I was sitting in the uni library one day when a girl plonked down on the sofa nearby and began bawling her eyes out. I put down my book, asked if she was okay and spent an hour or two helping her compose herself and track down the friendly uni counselling services, call her family or a friend, etc.

    Turns out – she was a total freak who targeted ME because she wanted some attention and sympathy, and compulsively made up lots of things like she was (a) pregnant (b) recently dumped and (c) simultaneously suffering from terminal cancer. None of which was true… So beware who ye console in public…

  7. Kate says:

    Once I had in emotional breakdown in the detergent section of Rite Aid…I can’t remember why exactly. I had just failed my drivers test, I was stuck downtown in the winter without a coat or a ride, my dad had yelled at me, a bunch of dumb things like that. I just started bawling and I tried to buy tissues but my credit card was denied so I walked to the bus station bathroom and camped out there. It was really embarrassing and nobody asked me if I was ok or even looked at me. A few people glared actually.
    If I saw someone crying in public I would probably offer them a tissue and try to be nice. The worst is the fluids running down your face…

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