Sunday, January 9, 2011

Friend or Foe???

Had something interesting happen to me today......... really made me think.......

Just an ordinary day of wandering around the local mall with my daughter, enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon. A bit of window shopping, lunch at the food court, with a final stop at the very large Chapters book store on our way out. As my daughter headed towards the novel section, I made a bee line to the massive magazine display. I love to read magazines, and often spend way too much time in that area of the bookstore.  I had grabbed a few of my favorites off the shelf and proceeded to try to find the elusive "chair" that Chapters has strategically placed around the store for customers to use while reading a magazine or two.  A quick glance around, and I realized that they were all occupied by someone with the same idea as myself.  Hmmmm, a bit irritated, I decided anyway to try to find a table with books stacked flat on them that was a perfect height for me to lay my magazine on, and then I could just stand there for a few minutes and flick through the articles that I just had to read. 
I had stood there for maybe five or ten minutes reading, and subconciously zoned out whoever was around me as the article I was reading was pretty interesting.  Every so often, peripherally, out of the corner of my eye, I would notice someone milling around  as they re-viewed  a book or two at the table where I was standing.  Someone would appear, then move off to another section as they made their selection of book.   People would appear, then leave, another would appear, so on, and so on.
I honestly don't know how long it was before I noticed a man was standing directly in front of me on the other side of the table I was at.  I kept reading my magazine and a couple of minutes more went by before I heard him speak.
In somewhat broken English - he asked me "If I spoke Russian, or do you know any one who speaks Russian?" as he lifted the cover slightly of the book that he was looking at.
"Pardon?" I replied.
"I'm new here, and I am not looking for girlfriend or anything, just looking to make friends, meet people" 
My mind raced for a split second as I glanced up and tried to do the "womans-spidey-sense-once-over" of this complete stranger that suddenly decided to strike up some small talk. There were no "danger! run-like -hell-bells-and-whistles" going off, but that was probably because I was in a very busy public place, not alone.
"No, I do not speak Russian" I replied.
"It's very hard to make friend, find people, to talk"  is what I thought he said, but I really was not completely sure as his English was quite broken.
"Yes, especially Russian........I don't know.......of anyone" was my final reply as my daughter, who was in another area of the store walked up to us in mid-conversation.  I felt somewhat akward, and I was slightly relieved at her strangely perfect timing.
"Your ready to leave hon?" I mentioned to my daughter as I we proceeded to leave.
"Good luck" I said to him as I casually walked away towards the exit and did not look back.  The interesting part was the look in his eyes that I noticed, and the way that I felt as I walked away.  There was a strange slight lonliness to his eyes, and a strange slight guiltiness in me for not striking up more small talk.  I have no idea why this particular person and moment made me feel that way.  Really.....why should I feel guilty??  I did not know the man from Adam and would likely never ever see him again. 
Perhaps it was the compassion that we are born with as humans.  The desire to need or be needed.  We are hard-wired to feel emotion, to know when we are loved, or hated, even before birth. How you are treated, even in Utero, can alter your emotional path in life.  This response has been scientifically proven.  As humans we also have an instinct to survive, to protect our own selves as well.  The "fight or flight" response.  I have used both of these responses in different situations in my own life.  Often, in retrospect I knew I  made the right choice without a doubt, yet in others I still wonder if I did the right thing.I wonder in the past, if I had made the opposite choice, how would that have changed my own path in life? or even the life of a complete stranger.
Perhaps at that very moment I was walking away from someone who could have been the most interesting person I would ever meet in my lifetime.  Someone with an amazing life.  A new found best friend. Someone who genuinely just needed someone to be a friend to them.  Someone born with emotions and feelings the same as myself.  Just human. We are not born knowing immediately who is to be our friend in life. As life plays out, we choose them. We decide. We make the connection.

On the other hand, perhaps today, I was walking away from a Psychopath.  Someone who chose me as his target. He may have followed me around that bookstore and decided at that exact table to strike up a conversation and make his move. Walking away may have altered not only his life, but my own as well.  Choosing the flight option may have been the best decision I have ever made.  I wonder how this situation may have played out yet, I will never, ever, really know.  Its unfortunate that a human could make another human wonder this to even begin with.  I shudder to think of the atrocities that we as species inflict on another and what we are capable of.  Unspeakable acts.

Who knows what cards you will be dealt with.  It's like the well known "Fork in the road" story.  Do you go left, or do you go right? or the common "do you choose door number one? or door number two?"
What is the connection  makes a human decide who is going to be the friend, or foe?

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