Rides for Strangers
I am, in general, a helpful fellow. I know that not everyone experiencing hard times earned it. At the same time, there is a sense, on occasion, that tells when trouble is more likely than others.
This morning around five o'clock, I stopped by my local convenience store for a newspaper and a beverage. As I pulled into the parking lot another fellow walked up to the door of the place and stopped. He held a phone to his ear.
I pulled into my parking spot in front of the store and shut my car down.
He glanced over my direction.
Intuition said, "He's going to ask for a ride."
He went into the store.
I went into the store and gathered the afore mentioned items and went to the counter to pay.
The other fellow was ahead of me. The odor of alcohol and that nasty personal odor that drunks get hung in the air around him. He glanced in my general direction while the clerk rang him up. I say generally in my direction because he didn't seem too focused.
He paid for his assortment of breakfast sandwiches and beverages with an Iowa Food Stamp card (a debit card that replaced actual food stamps and cut costs and fraud by quite a bit.) He asked the clerk for an extra plastic bag so he could carry his sweat shirt. Then he left the store.
I paid for my own items and headed out to my car. He stood in the parking lot.
"Hey," he said, "are you going in the general direction of Hiawatha?"
My path home could take two different paths, one of which would have shaved a mile off of the three miles to Hiawatha. That little part of my brain that tells me to duck when I hear something coming toward the back of my head told me that I was taking the other route today. "No, sorry, I'm not." I got into my car.
He muttered something about how his car doesn't work and he has to walk and then he shuffled toward the intersection. In his assumed condition, he probably shouldn't be driving anyway.
I took off on the alternate route, though I was mildly tempted to take the Hiawatha-ward route just to be a bastard.
There have been times that I have given rides to strangers. I don't recommend the practice for other people. You never know how dangerous a stranger could be. On the other hand, they usually don't know my history and how likely I am to cause serious physical and psychological harm to someone who engages me in hostile actions. I also remember the tale of Odin and King Geirrod, and know that you never really know who a stranger may turn out to be.
Still, there are people and places that wisdom will guide one from and one should tend to follow that thought. There are those who will never really benefit from your help and there are those who will only really cause harm.