All right kids let’s gather round and talk about strangers. Oh what a spooky sounding word. 2 blogs, facebook, twitter and a youtube channel should tell you something about my comfort level with strangers. To me a stranger is just someone you haven’t met yet.
There are several things that got me thinking about the topic of strangers. The main thing is nearly every woman I have told about the cookie swap in person has asked ‘you ate them? Aren’t you afraid of pot brownies and razor blades?’ They all say pot brownies and razor blades which I find funny because if you saw the cute men and women on the cookie swap facebook page it’s the last thing you would guess.
Let me just say this to assuage anyone’s fears. Pot is expensive and I don’t think the average weed enthusiast is going to be mailing off their prize to total strangers especially when they are bloggers who have a reputation to keep up. The likelihood of that happening is about a million to one.
I would have a better chance of someone mailing me a $100 bill than pot brownies and razor blades. The razor blades come from old urban legends about razor blades in apples at Halloween. Well as far as I’ve read there is no proof that such a thing happened even once let alone a regular occurrence amongst the cookie makers of America.
So why do we have this irrational fear of strangers? If you ask most people ‘are men and women really good at heart?’. Most people would say yes (except the cynics and they aren’t likely to be baking cookies for a swap…). So why is it that we immediately jump to the worst of worst case scenarios? I’ve seen this so many times in my life.
For example, when I built my basement apartment I heard every horror story about creeps, weirdos and nuisances destroying apartments. Aside from my Dad, who was all for the idea (he claims it was his idea which is not true! I wanted an income property way back), most people thought I was nuts. In reality it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have met truly wonderful people and been able to have help with my mortgage and provide a home for 3 great couples.
It puzzles me…
The other experience that made me think of this was actually a negative one. You guys know I love The Messiah and go to a Messiah Sing-in every Christmas. Well, this year I decided to go to the one at Abravanal Hall because I was in town for Thanksgiving.
My friend got sick and cancelled on me at the last minute and I wasn’t able to find anyone to replace her but off I went by myself. When I got downtown I decided to park at the Marriott because City Center was closed.
When I entered the elevator I saw an old man with a veterans hat on. We started talking and I assumed he was a guest at the hotel. I told him I was going to the concert and he sounded interested. So without really thinking it through I said ‘do you want my extra ticket? It is just going to go to waste.’.
To my surprise he jumped at the chance and as I rushed out of the hotel to make the beginning of the concert I heard him say ‘great you can be my date…’. Oh no, I thought to myself. This could get weird. Unfortunately he caught up to me rather quickly because I have my knee injury (not at 100% yet but improving). Well, it turned out he was just parking at the hotel like me and it became clear very quickly he saw this as a date and unfortunately the tickets were sitting next to each other.
When we got to the symphony we had to wait to get in and a man made a huge stink over having to wait (it was so uncomfortable). I would have just left but I knew he would follow me out so why not hear the beautiful music? So we go in and the concert was so awkward. He tried to put his hand on my back on several occasions and I am not a touchy feely person at all. Do not touch my back on a first date or whatever this was (take notes boys!).
He talked the talk of a Mormon man but then he mentioned his divorced wife and a few things he said made me squirm. I told him very little about myself but just enough for him to know of my standards (no personal information). So the concert finally ended and I left and thankfully he had to get his coat from the coat check. I told him ‘It was nice to meet you but I’ve got to go’. And then he said ‘but wait we can go get drinks’.
Can you believe he asked me to get drinks? He also claimed he was good at guessing ages and then guessed I was 41…So obviously not so good. I said no thank you and bolted out of there as fast as my poor knee would let me. (I was sore for about 2 days afterwards but a girls got to do what a girls got to do). Honestly he was probably harmless but I’ve learned in my life when you get that feeling follow it and get out of the situation as fast as you can.
So, that was a very upsetting situation but what do I as a woman and person to process it? Do I let that stifle my nature and make me nervous about eating cookies from strangers? Heck no. After all, I knew what to do and I did it.
The Lord or your conscience or whatever you want to call it helps us know what risks are worth taking in life. In my experience, 99% of the time people astound me with their kindness, goodness and insight. Perhaps next time I’m in an elevator I’ll take a moment to say a silent prayer and be cognizant of what God is trying to tell me before blurting out offers but I’m not going to let it frighten me.
Now we of course teach children to be afraid of strangers but maybe we teach the lesson too well? Parenting is another whole ball of wax I won’t try to dive into but I just know for me whether it is cookies or a comment on a blog I’ve written strangers have benefited my life. With a little bit of common sense and calculable risk taking it is a huge blessing in my life and I’m not going to let anyone take that away from me.
I guess what I am trying to say is look at the actual risks of a situation and not let an extremely rare circumstance stop you from interacting with the world. Maybe stranger danger has been taken too far? It’s just cookies after all. No razor blades or pot (at least to my knowledge…I wouldn’t know what it tasted like anyway. Ha).
Sorry for rambling a bit but just something on my mind. I love people and really do think a stranger is a just a friend I haven’t made yet in 99.9% of the time.
5 thoughts on “Strangers”
There’s no way to teach stranger danger “too well” to children, because children don’t have the ability to reason through such situations; nor do they have the mental or physical ability to easily escape. Because most women lack sufficient upper body strength, martial arts training, or a handy legal “equalizer,” they’re essentially in the same place as children. In general, the hazard is less for men, but under some circumstances a man can become a victim, as well. So all adults should be sure the branch will bear their weight before they go out on a limb.
But I agree with you about the fundamental decency of most people, and about inappropriate extrapolations. Pot brownies are not going to happen, not only because dope is expensive, but in most places it’s illegal, and easily detected by dogs. Razor blades are also expensive, and would show up on x-rays. Plus, the USPS photographs every piece of mail that goes through its system. i don’t know about the other couriers, but I’m sure they have their own precautions.
Enjoy the cookie exchange (mine have to be gluten-free). 🙂
Yeah that’s why I said parenting is a different issue. I’m not saying we should be careless but I also think we should look honestly at the real risk and then embrace others. Yes occasionally you have a bad experience but it’s not going to stop me from being open and kind to strangers. That’s all I meant
The funny thing is with the risks I take (compared to the average person at least) it’s strange my one bad experience would be at the symphony at a Messiah Sing-in. Didn’t see that coming. But I refuse to allow it to make me bitter or fearful. It’s like a freak 20 car accident. It might happen to you once in life but is it something to be worried about every time you drive? No. Common sense, listen to the spirit and take risks that make sense and interacting with strangers is ok in my book. It’s certainly benefited my life very much.
You made some great points! I don’t know a single person who would want to send their pot brownies around for practically no reason other than to stir up trouble. People just enjoy being negative Nancies about everything!
Ha. Right! People let a bad apple spoil the whole barrel and let the scary stories on the news make them feel such bad experiences are the rule rather than the extreme exception to the rule