Knee-Jerk Response

Today was a step into the Twilight Zone. Between being spacey from pain meds for my dental work yesterday to trying to finish up cleaning a house in another city to driving to the DNV to find it closed two days in a row, I have been feeling quite disjointed.

Then today happened.

Walking into the police department (where the DNV was), a van was honking at me. I ignored it and went inside. Closed. Came back outside and the van was pulled into the parking lot across the street. I pulled my car out of the parking spot and noticed the man from that van heading towards me.

There was nobody else around. This middle-aged, balding man with a mask was walking towards my car. 

I, in my infinite wisdom, thought, “Oh no. Here comes a terrorist coming to kill me.”

“Did you honk at me?” I asked. Flight or fight. Flight or fight. I am too chicken to fight, too self-conscious to drive away. The man came up to my car. My window was wide open (I have no A/C in this car.)

“Can you help me please? I cannot find this place,” he said in a heavy foreign accent. More terrorist feed, like tempting a kid with candy before snatching them up and disappearing. 

I put my car into park. He held out his phone to me. On it was a picture of a business card of a financial

something-or-other. The address was one I wasn’t familiar with. I should have said sorry, no, and took off.

But instead I said, “I’m from a different town. But let me check my GPS on my phone and see where this is.” So I did just that. 

Turns out he was just on the wrong side of Main Street. “It’s over next to the library,” I offered. 

“You know where that is?” he asked. I nodded. “Then will you take me there? Please?”

So now what do I do? What do you think I did?

“Sure,” I said.

This man thanked me and blessed me and blessed my family. He wished me long life and blessings. He followed my car down the street, across Main Street, and, turning in from of the library, I pulled over, pointing him to the building across the street. He thanked me and blessed me and blessed my family again. I blessed him too.

And I felt like such a heel.

I hate that knee-jerk reaction when someone different than you talks/looks/approaches you. It’s a generational thing, to be sure. From our parents to us, racial discrimination and judgment is real. We don’t necessarily feel that prejudice, but somewhere in our past we’ve been exposed to it and our automatic flight or fight instinct turns on. And the news and social media and events of the past few days hasn’t helped.

I was ashamed I was afraid of this man. Yes, people do get murdered or attacked in small towns everywhere. But the actual percentage of it being you is so small that the odds of someone attacking you in particular are practically nill. 

And it’s more important to help than to run. At least it is to me. I can’t be afraid of the whole world my whole life. What will be is what will be. 

I am glad I helped the man find his building. I am glad he blessed me and my family. I blessed him and his family, too.

I wish the rest of the world could learn a lesson from this.

10 thoughts on “Knee-Jerk Response

  1. So true. I had a similar experience except I was the guy that was lost. My car stalled in downtown Newark NJ. Wisconsin plates and my white face. Yes I was scared. But two young men came along and helped me get my car started and gave me directions. An experience I will never forget. There is more to the story, perhaps one day I will write about it.

    Like

    1. Oh… I hope you do! Its cathartic for you and for your readers. I hesitated before hitting publish, because I didn’t want people think I’m the hero. But I wanted to show you can’t always be afraid of strangers. Not every experience is a Friday Night Movie. Thank you.

      Like

Share Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s