Overall I have a fear of talking to strangers.
Can you still call them strangers as an adult?
For some reason I feel like I’m 6 years old and being scolded by my father when I use that term.
I don’t think my current fear stems from my parents telling me as a child not to talk to strangers. Actually, my mother can and will talk to anyone, in any store, on any day. She is the epitome of “A People Person”.
My father used to be a fairly conversational type of fellow. He had friends and would have them visit frequently, he would talk with the neighbors, and was generally a nice guy. But, he since has become a grumpy old man who would prefer to be left to his own devices as of late (the last 10 or so years being “of late”).
I don’t like to talk to my neighbors.
I even have a really nice lady right next door, but I can’t bring myself to talk to her.
I don’t talk to people while waiting in the grocery check out line.
I even hate asking for help in a store.
I don’t know why I’m afraid of people, a.k.a. strangers.
It’s possible that it arose during those blessed teenage years when your mental state can be at its’ weakest and your friends and peers are at their most cruel.
Maybe it’s because when I do talk to strangers, I end up feeling like I’ve made a complete fool of myself. They don’t get my jokes, or I come off sounding rude because of this odd anxiety- I just spew out words without thinking.
Who really knows?
What I do know is that even in the instance when seems like someone could use a little help, I get nervous and just don’t ask.
There’s always that voice in my head that tells me,
“If you ask that old woman wondering around the parking lot, looking like she’s desperately searching for where she’s parked her car, she’s going to turn around and bash you in the head with her purse, afraid you’re going to mug her”.
“If you ask that old man if he needs any assistance, he’s going to yell at you, ‘Do you think I look like a useless old man?’ Which he does, but you don’t want to offend him.”
“I know that kid looks lost and about to cry, but if you walk up to her and ask if she’s lost her mom, her mom’s going to walk around the corner and look at you like you’re a huge creeper trying to abduct her daughter that she’s been keeping an eye in this entire time.”
“That mom sure looks like she could use some help, but I don’t want her to think, that I think, that she looks incapable of handling those 6 kids and 5 dogs on her own.”
See, my brain just makes up all these scenarios where instead of being helpful, I end up disrespecting the people instead, thereby incapacitating me from doing any good on this planet.
One day, I did help someone.
I bought dinner for a homeless guy.
On my way into the grocery store I saw him sitting out front. It was a hot summer day and I had seen him around town a few times.
I do WANT to help people, and for some reason I chose this guy to try it out on.
I never give a homeless person cash, afraid of what it will really go to, so I went inside and bought him a fried chicken strips dinner with french fries and a gallon jug of water.
I finished my shopping and walked out, hoping he would still be sitting out front. He was.
I walked up to him and handed him the food. He took it from me, barely mumbled a thank you, started eating. Then I handed him the jug of water, which he turned down with a shake of his head.
I tried to hand it to him again, but he told me he already had something to drink.
I looked over and saw, next to him and his belongings, an open can of beer.
I encouraged him to take it again, and again he denied my offering.
I got really upset by that encounter.
I didn’t have to buy him anything, the least he could do was take the friggin water and make me think he actually appreciated it.
He could take it and then dump out the water and use it for a urinal after I left, for all I care, but no.
Since I felt like a huge piece of used toilet paper, I vowed to never help out a homeless person again.
I didn’t want to feel like my goodwill towards someone else wasn’t appreciated.
Is that bad?
It sounds kind of selfish now that I’m writing it out.
Whenever I get a gift, I’m always super appreciative for it, even if I hate it. I still take it home and try to figure out what I’m going to do with it.
Once; my dear, sweet, old grandmother gave me a ceramic pheasant as a gift.
I don’t have a hobby of collecting ceramics and I don’t really care for pheasants, but I had that ceramic bird as a tabletop decoration for years! Because I understand how important it was that she even cared enough to think of me and send me that dumb bird.
I do try to help people, in little ways.
I hold the door for strangers. But I’ve also been in that predicament where I’ve waited an abnormally long amount of time, holding the door for someone I thought was right behind me and then realizing I could have gone inside, bought what I needed and left, before they actually got to the door.
I always feel uncomfortable when someone too far ahead holds the door for me. So then I feel like I have to run, or do a fast paced walk, so that they don’t have to wait on me.
What if I come up to a door from the outside and someone comes up to the same door on the inside, then who opens/holds it?
Then there’s those times when I’m right behind someone who refuses to hold the door, or I hold the door for someone and they don’t say “Thank you”, then I get pissed!
I also help people while driving.
I like to make a break in the traffic line when someone has been waiting to get out of a parking lot.
But, I don’t want to hold up the traffic behind me, so I really have to look ahead and make sure that the light’s not green and I should be going.
Sometimes when I stop to let someone in, I realize later that there was no one behind me and I really didn’t need to stop to let them in. There would have been plenty of room, and time, for them to get across the road without me stopping, so then I feel like a real idiot.
Then there’s the times that I make plenty of room, at the right time, and let someone in who’s been waiting 30 minutes to get out, and I don’t get the “Thank You” wave. And I get pissed!
Should I wave back to them if they do wave?
If someone turns on their turn signal to switch lanes, I try to make room for them to get over.
But God forbid, if I turn my turn signal on 5 minutes before I need to switch lanes and the jerk in the other lane decides to neither slow down or speed up, so I end up having to cut them off. Then I get honked at like I’m the jerk! (I did check when I got home to make sure my turn signal was working.)
I like to help people when I can, I just have a hard time in my head trying to figure out the right situations to do it in.
If I see someone on the side of the road with their broken down car or a flat tire, I would love to offer them a ride somewhere, but I don’t want to be on the front page of Murder Today magazine.
I would love to bake holiday cookies for my neighbors. But what if they’re on a diet, or maybe they’re diabetic, or they don’t celebrate the holidays, or have a gluten allergy?
There are just too many variables at stake.
Ultimately, I’m not trying to be a horrible person, I just don’t want to offend anyone or possibly get hurt, murdered, or cause a diabetic coma, or start a neighborhood feud.
I just don’t have what it takes, the skill, of helping others.
What else is going on in the mind of WhyMommaWhy? Why don’t you find out.