Isn’t it sad that the world is so riddled with horrible people that will take their first opportunity to cheat and steal from you? Isn’t it horrible that in the modern world trust is a hard to come by thing? Doesn’t it suck that we pass dishevelled people on the street and instantly plead with God to let us pass without pain?
I had an interesting encounter last week when I left the radio station with a rather unkempt, yet lovely man. As I left the studio and crossed the road to my car a guy called out to me from the front seat of his beat up Holden Commodore. With my headphones in I could have easily ignored him and kept walking, but I looked around the street, and noticing that there were many people around I decided to approach the man and his car.
He asked me through his window if he could borrow my phone for a couple of dollars, and he promised to let me hold his car keys so I knew he wouldn’t do a runner. It was here that I became disgusted with myself. Did I really think so much of myself that I had almost walked past this guy asking for my help without even a second glance. Or was I a victim of societal norms telling me that I, as a woman shouldn’t approach an unknown man alone? And how was it that I stood there looking down on this clearly in need and slightly nervous man still concerned for my own safety and my material possessions?
I steeled myself, scolded myself even, and realised that the world had really turned into an ugly place, a place where a poor man was scared to ask for help out of fear of being ignored, yelled at, or worse, a place where a woman would look over her shoulder for re-enforcements in the bright lights of day when she was merely asked for help.
I gave the man my phone and felt extremely awkward as he handed me my insurance policy, his keys. He made a quick call and offered me $2, I declined, smiled, wished him a good day, gave him his car keys, and walked away. In the entire interaction he was nothing but courteous and polite, yet still when I got back to my car and sat down I pondered the idea of having harassing phone calls from some unknown phone now that my number was out in the open. How crazy is that!?
I rang my mother and discussed my encounter with her explaining my mixed feelings. These being my entrenched need to keep myself as a single young woman safe, and my desire to help those who need it. I came to realise it was neither myself nor this man who had anything wrong, but more a society that has let down its members, a world that has grown dark and untrusting through bitter and twisted societal norms.
Maybe one day we will all learn again what it is to be a good neighbour, a smiling stranger, and an even better friend. But until then, I plan on helping where I can in giving others the small acts of kindness I can without an instant judgment and fear for my safety.