Part of me wishes I had grown up in a different decade. When I imagine it, I almost always envision myself in the roaring 20s, with a fashionably cut bob, glitzy flapper dress, elegant white gloves and long cigarette holder. I would have been rocking the dance halls. But there seems to be a part of each decade that appeals to me and makes me wish I could have lived in that time period. I can imagine myself going on a long, cross country voyage during the 60s, picking up a hitchhiker along the road and becoming fast friends with this newfound wanderer. But you can’t do those types of good deeds anymore, unless you want to put yourself in danger.
I’m sure risks were part of the equation back then, but on a smaller scale. My best estimate would be that in the 60s, 3% of the people you would pick up on the side of the road would kill you. Now that percentage is nearing 95. You would have to be an idiot to do it. Or simply a nice person whose heart is too big to turn the other way. I always want to help, but safety wins out when I am driving alone.
A few weeks ago I was at work with one other teacher. A disheveled looking older man come up to the door before our secretary was at work. As I went to the door and let him in, a red flag went up. He was missing a significant amount of teeth, his hygiene was questionable and all in all he seemed like someone that should not be trusted around children. The kind part of me chastised myself for being so judgmental and not giving this gentleman the benefit of the doubt. He claimed to be from a fundraising service that our school was using. I directed him to a chair by the office to wait for our secretary to get here, which would be in less than five minutes.
I internally struggled with whether or not I should let him sit by the office by himself. There were no children in the building yet, so their safety was not a concern. And I didn’t want him thinking that I was making snap judgements about him not being trustworthy based on his appearance. But I was. I hate being in those situations. I want to be able to be welcoming and trust everyone that I encounter, but you simply can not do that all the time in our world.
What would you have done in this situation? Have you ever encountered a situation where you struggled with being polite to someone versus making decisions based on your safety?