Raise your hand if you had a mother who instilled the stranger danger line in your head from a young age.
Raise your hand if you had police officers come into your elementary classes and tell you to under no circumstances get in a car with someone you don’t know.
Of course. We all did. So I’m well aware.
Last week my university’s musical theater club put on a show, and I, a musical lover, bought a ticket, ate a quick dinner and made sure I caught a bus that would get me to campus in an appropriate amount of time.
Everything went according to plan, and the show was pretty good (even if almost everyone in it was kind of pitchy). However, after the show around 10:45-ish, I had to walk home. The busses where I live are SO GREAT and they don’t run in my direction past EIGHT-THIRTY!!!! Luckily, I live close to campus, and my walk is no more than 15 minutes. That being said, it’s common sense that a young female should not be walking in the dark near a campus. I have done it before, at a later hour no less, and it’s been fine, but I’m still paranoid, and the alarm bells in my head still go off every time I see my own shadow. However, that night, I was more worried about the cold.
As I’m walking to the outskirts of my campus and toward the main road, a bus drives by. It’s a campus shuttle, and I’ve been on them many times. I laugh to myself because I know that that bus will be driving right by my place and it would have been sweet if I could’ve hitched a ride. Not two minutes later does another shuttle bus come by. Only this time, it slows down. And the bus driver rolls down the window and motions for me to come closer. I walk around to the door, and the bus driver (an elderly Indian lady) asks where I’m going and if I need a ride. I’m not joking. I could have gotten a private bus ride right home. I tell her I don’t live far and I’m okay walking, but she persists. So again, I thank her and decline. She drives off.
I don’t even get another ten meters before a minivan comes by, and that slows down too. This time it’s a middle aged lady and she right away says, “I know you shouldn’t accept rides from strangers, but do you need a lift?” and as she says this, she rolls down the back window to show me that she has two kids in the back seat. But again, I decline, saying thanks but I’m fine walking and I live really close, so she drives off.
No more vehicles approach me, but those two were enough to get me thinking the whole way home. It was really nice of those ladies to offer me a ride. They were complete strangers and they could have just driven right past. That’s the normal thing to do, actually. It wasn’t even that cold (though I did have two sweaters, an undershirt and a ski jacket on).
I did consider accepting, though. Both times. I mean, yes they were risks, but out of anyone, an elderly lady and a middle aged mom were probably two of the safest bets. I’m sure I would have been perfectly fine, and no murders would have occurred. But I’m a cautious person, and I really was fine walking, so I said no. I’m sure my mother is reading this and is nodding fondly with approval.
Strangers are risks and they can be a real danger. I know that. But out of the six billion people on this planet, most are probably harmless. I mean, it was a risk for those ladies to assume I’m not a murder myself (I’m not, jsyk). We’re taught to avoid strangers and always be cautious, and while that is good advice, maybe that’s stopping us from experiencing the joys of a good deed, or seeing a kind side of a human.
As I walked, I thought a lot about strangers and good deeds. When was the last time I went out of my way to do something randomly kind for a stranger? I don’t know. Does that make me a bad person? No. It makes me safe.
I was going to challenge you all to do something nice for a stranger, and you should, but want I really want you to do is marvel at humans. We can be so nice and kind and good hearted for no reason. That’s awesome. And then go use that new sense of respect to go be a better stranger. I got home feeling really happy and safe, and that was not the feeling I expected to have when I exited the campus theater. Shoutout to those two ladies and shoutout to anyone who’s done something like that out of the kindness of their heart. It’s people like you who make this crazy world we live in a decent place.
That’s all for now!