Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Trusting Friendliness

Going to China did some interesting things for Ryan and me. Where I came back with 6 months of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), Ryan developed a heightened awareness of his surroundings and a distrust of strangers. (If you haven't heard our China story, don't go looking for it in the posts below. They scratch the bare bones of what happened, but skip all the stuff that caused the above-mentioned reactions.)

Yesterday as we walked through Walmart, we were struck by that feeling that something was different... turned out it was the layout of the store. We had no idea where the baby section was, and we were wandering around discussing the fact out loud when a man about 20 ft. away asked us what we were looking for. We told him, and he said, "Oh, it's over here," and walked us there.

He looked to be in his twenties and had two little girls with him, probably 2.5 and 4 years old. He had a bit of a beard, and a slightly airy voice. He took us to the appropriate section, and saw that we were looking at baby monitors.

"Oh, do you need a monitor? I have one I'd sell you. We paid $60 for it, but we never used it because our apartment was small enough to hear them crying. I'd give it to you for $30. It's one of those that has two receivers." He indicated the $60 monitors on the shelf.

Ryan and I looked at each other, but we weren't sure what to say. Meanwhile the older girl came running around the corner holding a Disney princess umbrella. "Daddy, Daddy, we need this for the rain outside!" Her sister came running up as well, holding an umbrella almost bigger than she was. She grinned up at me and said, "Sponge Bob."

Turns out his name was Frank. We found that after we had exchanged phone numbers and gotten his address. He called his wife, and she said to only charge us $20 for the monitor. That was cheaper than the single-receiver short-range set at the store. He said he'd go home and find it, then give us a call.

Ryan and I discussed afterward that our first instinct was to distrust even the fact that Frank offered to show us where the baby things were. We could tell he was just being nice, but part of us wanted to know why. Why would he be nice? What motive could he have for offering to sell us his monitor instead of the one at the store? Did he just want to sell it? Could it really be that he wanted to save us money and clear up some space in his house at the same time?

We went that night to pick up the monitor. It was dark out, which meant our guards were up even more. I sat in the car with Cimorene and locked the doors quickly behind Ryan. I kept wondering why I was sending my husband to knock on the door of someone we knew nothing about.

But Frank was not sitting there with a gun, ready to steal Ryan's wallet; he was in the living room where his younger daughter had fallen asleep curled up with blankets on the floor. He gave Ryan the monitor, and Ryan gave him the $20. They discussed how they'd both worked at the cheese factory in town. And Ryan came back to the car.

It's sad that we were both so hesitant to accept friendliness for what it was. We looked for hidden motives, instead of believing that Frank was actually just a nice guy. Neither of us felt genuinely uncomfortable about the situation, or we wouldn't have gone to his house, but both of us had that little cynical voice that said people aren't really just friendly like that. I'm grateful Frank showed us otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like the garbage can lids are coming down :) Love you! Thanks for sharing your lessons with me and reminding me that walls aren't all they are cracked up to be.


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