My parents have often warned me against trusting strangers. They would share many real-life stories like people getting abducted, drugged, mugged and smuggled and what not. So while I was young, I would always be suspicious if someone tried being good to me at the railway station, or at the market, or while traveling in a bus or be it at any place with an unfamiliar crowd.
I grew up building trust with a bit of suspicion. It was like, if someone had to be good then there had to be an underlying personal interest or benefit. But as I grew I wanted to learn to trust everyone.
So to start with, I took risks with just one belief that – ‘What has to happen will happen. Help strangers’. And most importantly to be able to discern if my gut feeling is mostly right. There are moments in life where a decision is made by judging a person by what he wears, what he drives, the size of his house, the look on his face or worse the color of his skin. But I believe that no matter how much you scrutinize a person to gather information, your gut feeling knows a lot better than what you actually do.
I started by offering rides is because this kind of help is easily and immediately accepted by the recipient. It is like a win-win situation for both of us where I am able to offer exactly the same help that is expected in the mind of the other person. So while driving, if I find someone whom I think could use a ride, I pullover, stop and offer them one.
I have given rides: to a blind man who had finished his work and was hurriedly walking towards the bus stop to reach home quickly to celebrate his son’s birthday, two school children who were walking on the highway to save money off their daily commute, a physically challenged man restlessly walking on the road as he was already late to work because he couldn’t find any auto’s passing by. And I have had many more beautiful memories and conversations that makes me want to meet more strangers.
My mom often says that this kind of help is someday going to land me in serious trouble. And that someday some stranger might throw me off and speed off with the vehicle or that I could get abducted. But every time I help a stranger my belief in humanity keeps getting stronger. People out there are lovely, warm and really nice.
And the reason I feel good about offering rides is not because I am doing something exceptional, it is because I love the feeling of creating a friendly world for myself and it’s a way to maintain my gut level judgement.