Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I won't be a good samaritan anymore (at least in Vancouver)

On the way to my office today I saw a young woman who was on the brink of bursting into tears. As I usually do, I pondered whether I should say something or not. Usually, I try to help people out and offer a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. But in Vancouver (in Canada, in general) I find it really hard to do that, because people are quite jealous of their personal space.

I figured "hey, what the heck..." and I approached her gently, asking "are you ok? I saw you a few minutes ago and saw that you were about to cry. I just wanted to make sure you were ok" and she said to me, rather bluntly "I'm fine." FINE, WHATEVER. That's what I get for trying to be nice.

This is disturbing. In a city already renowned for being aloof and unfriendly, there are still a few of us who will want to approach random strangers and offer our help. And what do we get? Almost a slap in the face. Sometimes, I wonder how can campaigns like "Free Hugs" succeed in a city like this. At any rate, I learned my lesson. No more "Good Samaritan"-ing.

2 comments:

Mitch said...

See, I don't find Vancouverites too bad for that... I know alot of people do.

In the last week, I have carried boxes for a random stranger; picked a woman off the ground after she slipped on the ice; bought coffee for a woman who realized she didn't have enough money; and smiled at more people than I can remember...

And not one of those people were rude, inconsiderate, or unhappy...

I truly feel that it is all in how you carry yourself...

Stephen Rees said...

So one young woman is not willing to accept help when offered. So what. That's her loss, not yours. She has been fed so much crap about "stranger danger" by the media she is worried that you could be a monster. She cannot conceive of the possibility of a nice guy just offering help with no strings attached.

But you must keep on being yourself, and not allow one - admittedly not very pleasant experience - put you off. I mean, it's not like she called the cops on you. The next one will be nicer.

By the way in my life I have realised that when a woman - especially one who is either married to you or a close blood relation - says "I'm fine" you don't listen to the words. You watch the body language and listen to the tone. The most likely meaning is "I am very far from fine as you should well know. And I am not going to help you out by telling you what you have done wrong." But that of course does not apply to strangers - however perfect.