At school, we did a course called Stranger Danger. I was all of seven years old and we were educated in the matter of childhood abduction. What to do. What not to do. Words like molestation weren’t mentioned. We weren’t told that culprits were likely to be people we knew. I was lucky enough not to be one of these victims.
Yet, there have been many circumstances where strangers were nice. Even kind.
My grandfather told me about the time he broke down. This is before mobile phones and before my grandparents even had a land line. He was at the side of the road for a good hour before someone pulled over to offer assistance. This fellow was from a low socio-economic background, under-educated and on the side of poor. He offered help.
My grandfather said, ‘Those who have less often give more.’
Once, when at university I was coming home on the bus and felt ill. For three whole stops I kept telling myself I could make it. By the time I reached my final stop, I had to lay down to prevent myself from fainting. I splayed out on the concrete footpath. A stranger asked me if I was okay.
At school a man stood with a fellow student. I wandered over to find the gentleman trying to explain the currency ‘yen’ to him in broken English.
“We have cents,” I said, “While the Japanese have yen.”
The gentleman thanked me, turned to me and bowed. “For you.” he said, and handed me a coin, hollow and tied with a red ribbon. I still have it.
And once, this happened:
It was a glorious sunny day and I felt on top of the world. It was my day off, and I was walking through town after just treating myself to a small bunch of flowers for the house. I rounded the corner and I saw a well dressed middle-aged man sat on a bench rubbing the back of a woman who laid across him. She was sobbing. Hopeless, shaking sobs. I felt embarrassed that myself and the entire bustling street had caught them in this private and heart-wrenching moment of their lives. I wish I had stopped. I wish I asked them if they were okay. I wish I’d given them my flowers.
“Strangers you’ll never forget”
What are yours?
We’re blogging every day in the month of November! I think I’m actually getting the hang of this.