I believe that if people are given the chance, despite classic suspicions, they are kind.
Ever since I was a little girl, I learned that talking to strangers was bad. They were scary people who were going to kidnap you; my mother even showed me the Winnie-the-Pooh show about how to deal with an encounter with a Stranger, annually. These Strangers would lurk in cars, shadows over their faces, stony smiles plastered all over their average looking faces. To me it seemed like Strangers were a race from another planet, a very dangerous one where the population used candy as bait. Jolly Ranchers were not worth a talk with a Stranger and a kidnapping.
One morning, my mother and I were driving home from elementary school, when our car spluttered to a halt. As she slightly cursed under her breath about how my father should have put gas in the car this morning, she pulled out her cell phone. Dad was in a meeting, and we were stuck.
As the Texas sun beat down, I began to get bored. My mother began to get hot. She grabbed my arm, marched into the nearest neighborhood, hesitated and rang the doorbell of the first house on the left. The man who opened the door promptly gave us iced tea, lent us a gas can, and drove us to the nearest gas station. I never even knew his name.
After I got a glass of iced tea from some random man who had a nice green lawn, the Winnie-the-Pooh movie was out the window. I began to realize that people you don’t know are happy to help or talk to you if given a chance. And as I grew up, everyone was available to come to my aide whether or not I knew them. I have asked a man in the grocery store about what to put in guacamole, begged to cut the airplane line (my plane left in ten minutes), and left a restaurant only with the promise to repay them the next day.
Now I don’t believe my parents if they say that people are angry, dangerous, and obviously not to be spoken to. There are many people who ruin the popular opinion of strangers through tragic crimes, yet I always try to find best in people, seeing the man with a nice green lawn forever. I find kindness everywhere, while other people judge those they have never even met as they listen to the crimes a few strangers have committed. Strangers need a chance to prove themselves, and all I have to do is give it.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.