Posted by Charity on April 20th, 2008

The other night, I was on my way to the Hannaford supermarket in South Burlington and I stopped at K-Mart to look at a couple of things.

On my way out to my car, a man stopped me and told me that he locked his keys in his car and wondered if I happened to be going down Pine Street because he needed a ride home.

Now, my first thought was, um, no. How stupid would I have to be to give a stranger a ride?

I mean, I am usually super cautious when I go out. I always scan the parking lots for people, walk with my head up, lock my doors as soon as I get in my car, and I know some basic self-defense techniques, though admittedly not as much as I probably should. So, of course, I know better than to offer rides to strange guys.

The thing was, this guy didn’t seem strange. I mean, he looked like a regular guy. There was nothing about his appearance that gave me reason to think that he was any type of threat. In fact, I didn’t think he was a real threat.

And I felt bad for him. The love your neighbor part of my brain really wanted to help this guy out.

Meanwhile, the logical side of my brain was telling me that, despite his harmless appearance, it was not a good idea to offer him a ride. I have a family to think about and it is my duty to keep myself safe.

I told him I was actually going to Hannaford (which is the opposite direction) and I needed to get home, which was true.

Then I mentioned that I actually would be going that way home, and said I would stop back by on my way through to see if he still needed help.

Of course, I don’t know what I would have done had he still been there because the fact remained, it would not have been wise to offer him a ride.

As it turned out, he was not there. And as I drove by, a car pulled up and he got out. Apparently, he got a ride from someone.

The point of all this is just to say that it is too bad that we live in a world where a woman cannot give a ride to a stranger in need because a small percentage of men out there are dangerous.

As I drove home, I was thankful that the man was able to get help from someone. At the same time, I couldn’t help but be dismayed at the reality that I did the right thing by not offering him a ride myself and at the horrors that take place in our world – in our own city, even – that have made it necessary.

4 Responses to “The World We Live In”

  1. It’s not worth it. The guy should call AAA, or Benway’s, or walk. Or call a friend. Or stick out his thumb and hitchhike the normal way, not walk up to a stranger in the parking lot. The most normal looking people can be the most dangerous. I would tend to trust a person more if they had a bone though their nose and a mohawk, than if they looked normal. Normal people are freaks.

  2. I don’t blame you one bit for your caution; it is the normal-looking ones that scare you the most. An author named Gavin de Becker wrote a book a few years back called (I believe) “The Gift of Fear”. In it, he admonishes women for putting themselves in dangerous situations rather than risk offending a man who may or may not assault her. An example would be a woman being alone on an elevator, and then not getting off the elevator when a man who gives her a creepy feeling gets on because she doesn’t want to offend him.

    I had a similar situation on a recent Sunday morning when I had just parked my car at a grocery store, and a black guy in hip-hop regalia started walking toward my car. I had just started to open my door, but when I saw him walking toward me, I shut the door, turned the engine back on, and rolled down the window just a crack in order to talk to him. He was asking for a couple bucks so he could put gas in his car, and I’m sure that is all he wanted. But if I opened the door and and shut off the engine, would his intentions have changed? Probably not – but with a wife and two young children at home, I felt it was better to offend this young man than leave behind a widow and two young fatherless children.

    It’s a heck of a shame that society has come to this.

  3. One moment in my life I will always remember was being on the subway in NYC back in the mid-90′s when I was visiting some friends there… there was a couple panhandling in the train, both in the advanced stages of HIV, the woman could barely stand. And I remember seeing everyone on that train go out of their way to ignore them. Now, I haven’t spent a lot of time in cities, so I asked my friend about it and he said something like.. if you gave money to every person that asked, you’d be broke. I understood what he meant but it really bothered me, nonetheless, to know that part of living there required one to turn off (or tune out) their humanity just a bit. It made me very sad.

  4. Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    JD, that is sad. The thing is, I think a lot of people use that as an excuse to not give anyone money.

    If I lived in a city like that and frequently passed beggars, I think I would budget a certain amount of money to give away each month to them, instead of giving only to organizations.

    If we all did that, we could meet people’s needs. I truly believe that.

    Of course, I also believe in God and free-market capitalism, so take it for what it’s worth.