Stranger Danger(-ish)

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!


16 thoughts on “Stranger Danger(-ish)

  1. It’s a weird situation in today’s day and age…looking out for ourselves and our own safety vs reaching out and either trying to help a stranger out or accepting an offer of help from a stranger. We are so inundated with negative and horrific news stories that only seem to cement our own fears of others and we rarely see the random acts of kindness or the good in people. But ultimately, it’s hard to overcome self-protection/preservation.

    Good post

    • You’re right, the news and all its horrors do not make the world seem like a kind place. And I think that’s why blogs are nice, they tell the happy stories that don’t get heard!

  2. Ah, it’s good to hear the stories of people being genuine and selfless – such a shame we generally jump to the worst case scenario because of the idiots and monsters who spoil it. I was always told to go the the nearest house of someone was following me but then who’s to say that the inhabitants aren’t more of a danger?!

  3. Interesting post. As a parent I try to teach my kids to avoid taking unnecessary risks when it comes to health and personal safety. Good on you for politely declining the kind offers. The lady with the kids in the backseat now has an excellent teaching moment for her kids thanks to you.
    I truly believe that random acts of kindness are experiencing a resurgence of sorts, thanks to social media initiatives. In the past I think they may have been more common and more natural. We should all endeavor to be kind, even to strangers. It doesn’t have to be a great, dramatic, media-worthy kindness-event. Let’s try holding a door open for the person following you in, or giving your seat to someone much older than you on the bus, or, wait for it; smiling and saying hello if your eyes meet.

    • I don’t know if I’d say that social media is playing a huge part in the occurrence of more acts of kindness. In fact, in terms of people on the internet I’d say the opposite. That being said, here I am writing about my experience and without this platform, it wouldn’t be reaching (and hopefully inspiring) as many people.

  4. I was reading this and thinking, “Aww, so sweet! Girl power!” And then I realized that no one says “girl power” anymore.

    But still, SO thoughtful of those ladies, though I probably would have done the same as you.

  5. Yeah, it’s very true that we’re taught to avoid strangers for very good reason…and when we’re old enough to automatically put that into practice, we realize most people will be kind, or at least ignore us and not do anything bad to us. Once last summer I got caught in a rainstorm with my small child — literally less than 1000 feet from my yard, so I felt embarassed — but anyway, this lady with her kids and niece pulled up and offered to give us a ride. This was after several cars drove right by us without stopping. I was grateful for her courage. Though, if it were me, would I have thought to pull over and offer to help that mother and child huddling under a tree, waiting for the storm to pass?

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