Trusting Strangers II

I failed to finish my last post. That oversight was caused by a combination of memory lapse and the fact that I had to drive to Little Rock to return a courtesy car and pick up the Outback. Nine-hundred-forty-two dollars later, I am home, a poorer man with safer tires and delightful four-wheel alignment (plus new oil and filter and a replaced catalytic converter, thanks to a recall).

In my incomplete post, I mentioned risky behavior after college. The incident on my mind (there have been many, many, many) was this: I had flown to Washington, DC to attend a meeting of some sort for business. My flight arrived rather late and I was anxious to get a cab to my hotel. After I collected my luggage and was headed toward the ground transportation area, a young woman with whom I had spoken briefly while on my flight approached me and asked where I was going. I told her I was on my way to the hotel where I had reservations.  The conversation that followed went something like this:

“I can give you a ride, it’s on my way.”

“Thanks, but I don’t want to put you to any trouble. Thanks, anyway.”

“No, I insist. It will be nice having someone to talk to on the way.”

I was not at all comfortable accepting a ride with this woman, but I was at the time unwilling to be firm in my “no” answer. The bottom line is that I followed her to her car.

As she drove, she explained that she was home on leave from the military. I am sure she told me more, but I don’t recall much else. She seemed to be a few years older than me, but then I’m not good at guessing ages; we were relatively close in age, I’m sure.

She asked me again the name of my hotel and the address. I pulled out my travel information and gave her the hotel address. She wasn’t quite sure where that was. She would have to consult a map.  That worried me; she had said my hotel was “on the way.”

She pulled over, consulted a map, and decided she knew precisely where it was, after all. And it was, indeed, on her way. So she said. And off we went. After a short while, she asked if I was in a hurry to get to my hotel. “I feel like a cup of coffee. Do you mind if I stop at XYZ Coffee Shop?” I don’t recall the name of the place; it may have been IHOP or Waffle House. I rather reluctantly agreed. We stopped. We had coffee. I learned more about her military career. If memory serves, she was a military police officer. For some reason, I remember thinking, “she looks like a cop.”

After sitting and chatting for a while, we got back in her car and she drove me to my hotel. I got out, thanked her for the ride, and went inside. I remember being nervous that I might find her waiting for me the next morning as I got ready to go to my meeting. She wasn’t.

Did I trust her? Not really. Why did I agree, then, to go with her? I don’t know. I think maybe it was because I did not want to seem rude by refusing her generosity. But she must have known I would have been nervous. Who wouldn’t be? What was I worried about? I don’t know that, either. I just didn’t feel like it was a good idea. But I did it anyway. And my worries were for naught.

Today, I probably would not accept the ride. I might try to refuse with humor or blatant lies. “I really shouldn’t; I’m afraid my psychosis could flare up on the way and that could be lethal for both of us.” Trust. That’s what has seeped out of my life. But there wasn’t so much back when, either, was there? I was afraid of the young woman who offered me a ride. Today I would be leery of another good Samaritan. Trust. It’s a crap-shoot.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes "Intimacy is never wrong. It can be awkward, it can be unsettling, it can feel dangerous, it can seem out of place, but it’s never wrong."― John Swinburn
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