When You’re A Stranger.

The other day the podcast I was listening to finished just as the bus arrived, so, instead of starting another, which I think is an unfriendly way of shutting out the strangers around me, I decided to read a book, which is a completely different unfriendly way of shutting out strangers. Then I overheard a woman with a baby in a stroller asking for directions and I realized she would be getting off at my stop. She’d have a bit of a hike getting to the store she was headed to, but I gave her directions. I felt bad for her too that she’d have to make the walk, pushing a stroller, along a sidewalk and across a large parking lot on such a hot, sunny day, although that was probably better than rain or cold or snow or fog or fish falling from the sky, which could happen.
Anyway when we got off the bus I pointed in the direction she wanted to go and even though we were both going the same direction part of the way I was prepared to walk by myself but she fell in step with me and started chattering away.
“Thank you so much for helping me. I’m a nanny and this is my first week with this family and they couldn’t let me have the car today so I had to take the bus.”
What kind of family hires a nanny but makes her use the bus? I thought. Then I yelled at myself for judging the family when I really don’t know what their circumstances are, that maybe for them a nanny is a necessity because they work very difficult jobs just to get by, and then a third voice added that it was a good thing I didn’t say anything bad about that family out loud because it might encourage her to say something negative about them which would be a terrible thing just in her first week. And even if she didn’t say anything negative I didn’t want to badmouth the family right there in front of their offspring. It also occurred to me that maybe she was being so talkative because she was nervous about sharing a sidewalk with strangers and, let’s face it, I’m a pretty strange guy, and also things were getting pretty crowded. With the voices on my head there were at least five of us on the sidewalk. So instead I just said, “Well, I hope things get better and good luck!” Or maybe that was one of the other voices talking.

Also not related to anything but something something another story, so this is for Memorial Day.

11 Comments

  1. thehuntress915

    I think we all tend to judge on the spot when we assume about someone’s situation by their comments or appearance. You and all your voices were all correct, it’s gut instinct that she might have been nervous on her first day.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yes, it’s definitely in our nature to make those sort of on the spot judgments, and it’s something I try to overcome. All those voices in my head can be distracting, though, and I just hope I didn’t seem rude. She obviously needed some reassurance.

      Reply
  2. Tom

    I think you’re a hell of a guy, Chris, and so are all the different voices in your head. I got hit with a rash of negativity the other day by a person I know (a customer I’ve known for years) and she had no idea her rash of negativity was aimed (not purposely) at me. I let her have it in return. And by “let her have it” I explained to her a different perspective without invective and she saw the other side. Happy Memorial Day, brother!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It sounds like you’ve found the ideal ointment to put on a rash of negativity. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us, and it’s good to have someone who’s patient and willing to talk us down, which makes you a hell of a guy too.

      Reply
  3. Bryce Warden

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only person that chastises themselves for split second judgements.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I wonder if most of us chastise ourselves for split second judgments but just never say anything about it. Whenever I reflect on my split second judgments I feel like a jerk so I can understand why people would keep their judgments to themselves.

      Reply
      1. Bryce Warden

        Exactly!

        Reply
  4. Allison

    I tend to make snap judgments – some have been right, some wrong. But it says something that you attract people who feel comfortable talking to you.

    And sometimes, that’s enough.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      If I can help someone I’m happy to, and it is nice to know that people seem to feel comfortable talking to me.

      Reply
  5. Ann Koplow

    I wish more people were as strange as you, Chris. I love hearing all your voices on WordPress.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The good news is there are plenty of strange people in this world. And thank you for reminding me of this:

      Reply

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