There are so many wackos in the world. You can never be too cautious. Growing up, I didn't live in the best part of town. So my siblings and I stayed indoors a lot. We never ever spoke to strangers. We were never allowed in neighbors' homes. We stayed within a two-block radius of our house, which only included the library, the corner deli, and the train station. So I learned to be careful. To watch for suspicious people. To avoid dangerous situations.
Of course, I realize that makes me cynical too. I know it doesn't always make sense. I could be in the safest neighborhood, and I still won't walk through it by myself. After moving in the suburbs, I try not to think of everyone as a criminal or a crazy person. I try to let my guard down a little, so people don't think I'm the crazy person.
This morning, I was pulling out of my street, and this older gentlemen was crossing the intersection right in front of me. He saw me, and it looked like he had a question or something. I thought maybe he needed directions. He walked toward my window. I opened it, and now I realize perhaps a little too wide. Anyway, he asked me for a ride up the street. I wasn't prepared for that question. I was willing to answer a question, not let a total stranger into my car. He showed me his ID to demonstrate that he did in fact live in the area and wasn't, in his words, "a crazy person."
After looking at his ID, I wouldn't say I felt safer. I mean he could still be a crazy person but just happen to live near me. But I felt like I couldn't refuse. I didn't want to be mean, I guess. He seemed harmless enough. So he hopped in. He was friendly during the two-minute car ride. But the whole time, I was trying to watch the road while watching him. To make sure he didn't pull out some sort of weapon or try anything. That's how my mind works.
If he did try something, I don't know what I would have done. Probably karate chop his ass. Really. I don't know.
The ride was over in no time. Afterward, I couldn't help asking myself if it was worth the risk. If that was one of the stupidest things I could have done. I could have just refused and went on my way.
In the end, nothing happened. The world didn't end. I am sitting here safe. But I can't shake that feeling of what if.