It's very cold and the ground is covered with snow. Yesterday my daughter and I went to the book store, to try to escape the house for a bit. On the drive home, I saw an elderly lady standing on the corner outside of a retirement home, looking at the ground, then up and around. She had on a fancy black hat with a rhinestone brooch pinned to it. She was carrying her pocketbook on her forearm. (My grandma always called her purse a pocketbook, therefore to me, all older ladies carry pocketbooks.) I stopped and opened my window, and asked if she needed anything. She told me that she lives at the retirement home and was trying to walk to the movie theater, but the sidewalk hadn't been shoveled.
Before I could think about it too much, I invited her into my car and drove her up the street to the theater. She told me how the theater had been playing such awful movies, but she sent them a newspaper clipping with a list of decent movies, and now they were playing some good ones. I listened to her, but my heart was clenched with fear. My face was hot, and the very short drive felt very long. All my life I've been told not to give rides to strangers. Stranger Danger. The thought crossed my mind that she could have a gun in her pocketbook.
After I dropped her off at the door, I sat back and thought about how much I hate fear. How I hate that I let it get to me. Our culture produces fear like it's the hottest selling gadget. I never watch the news. It's all scare, all the time. I get my news online and skip over the sensationalized stories. Sometimes relatives or friends tell me about this kidnapping or that robbery or those muggings. I try not to hold that stuff in my heart, but clearly some of it is getting through.
I believe most people are safe and good and I will not let my daily life be ruled by fear. I chat with strangers at the museum. I do not avoid places I want to go because someone once got mugged there.
And I will always give rides to the old ladies.