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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Stranger On The Street

I don't talk to strangers.  I don't say hello to random people, I don't look at their eyes, I don't smile. I live in a small town. I guess I could, but I don't.  Maybe it's because I spent so many years working in dangerous neighborhoods. I don't want to draw attention to myself.


A few mornings ago, Stormy and I were out for our very early morning walk and there were four police cars and lights blinking, on the street.  There was a young man seated on the sidewalk next to a big book bag.  The police were chatting with each other.  I was across the street but I clearly saw the young man, and wondered.


This morning we headed out and I was thinking about the chilly air, and Stormy and babysitting later in the day.  I sing a lot when I walk Stormy, mostly to myself.  I find each day comes with its own song.  Not today, no song.  I passed the usual row of stores, and saw the young man.  He was standing in the door way of the shop I just passed, smoking a cigarette. I was startled but did not stop.  I have no wallet, or phone, only Stormy.  Was I frightened?.  Not yet.  We turned for home after Stormy's business was done.  The young man passed me, walked by the big Church on the block, and turned to see if I was watching him. 


I am thinking about this...this stranger on the street.

1 comment:

  1. I gather that you are OK and nothing happened? I'm glad and understand how the memory of seeing the young man with the police made him appear more threatening. He may have collapsed but refused help, and the police stayed to assure that he was all right. Still, you had never noticed him before, and now you saw him twice within a short time. Solution? Change your route, stay within your complex for a while, and/or walk with your cell phone on, with 911 ready for one press of your finger.

    On the other hand, I have tended to be reservedly friendly and respectful with strangers (smiles, "Excuse me," a nod of the head, basic signs of respect and compliments for babies and pets, etc.), while walking briskly, with purpose and awareness. The gruffest person usually responds positively. If I am on a line for a cashier, the bathroom, or the bus, I am even open to conversation (learning some interesting things that way). If ignored or closed out, I do not say anything else and look away. I do not engage in subways unless someone asks for directions, in which case, I keep a few feet away and try to help or find someone else who can help.

    It's hard to know if the stranger is a psychotic serial killer / criminal or a needy person in distress. You can never be too careful. People do not always "look" the part. But you don't want to lose your humanity either.

    This can be a dangerous world at times. We have ample reasons to fear strangers. But I still am convinced that there more good people than bad people and that how we treat others can encourage their goodness or turn them into something else. We do have that power. B.