That Business of Strangers

Oliver and I have been making the rounds in downtown Charlottetown after supper this week stapling Richmond Street posters on electric poles.

On Monday night we ran out of staples and so popped in to Shoppers Drug Mart on Queen Street to buy some more. When we couldn’t find them on the shelf, I asked a clerk, who looked at the shelf with me and confirmed they didn’t have any. The pharmacist across the hall overheard our search, however, and volunteered some staples from his own stapler; no charge.

On Tuesday night we were walking up Queen Street toward Grafton. Oliver was expressing some interest in an after-supper snack when three young people stopped us on the sidewalk and asked us if we’d like hot chocolate and granola bars.

Ah… why?”, I said.

We’re just giving back to the community,” one of them replied.

And so we took a break and enjoyed hot chocolate and granola bars on a bench in the waning spring sunshine.

Both episodes were a technical violation of the age-old dictum to not talk to (let alone accept gifts from) strangers, and demanded an elaboration of the dictum to Oliver.

It’s okay to accept gifts from strangers if you’re an adult. But you have to go with what your gut tells you.”

What’s your gut?”, asked Oliver.

Your feeling about whether the strangers are good people with an honest offer.”

Okay,” said Oliver.

This is tricky parenting. I want Oliver to be “streetproofed” (and, to a large and possibly extreme extent, he already is), but I also want him to be open to the delightful happenstances that the world has to offer. 

With staples and hot chocolate under our belt, and an extra 25 posters still-unposted, I’m eager to see what gifts the streets of Charlottetown will provide us with this evening.


Sandy's picture
Sandy on May 10, 2012 - 18:30

Find anything interesting on the streets last night?

I agree, it is a difficult area for parenting. I, too, don’t want the kids to be scared of everyone out there just because they don’t know them. I will have to work with them on their gut instincts.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on May 10, 2012 - 20:36

It was raining yesterday, so kindness took the night off.

But today I got an email, which I initially took to be spam, that was a generous hat-tip-gift at from a reader who had found this blog post about MapInfo from 8 years ago and wanted to thank me.

So the unexpected kindness keeps on rolling.

Sandy's picture
Sandy on May 11, 2012 - 22:14

Nice to hear! Had a great lunch with Andrea today. We will try to keep it up.

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