Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Hard Shell of City Life


Having grown up in a small rural town, and worked on a farm since I was six, I have no desire to return to that life.  Since leaving home at the age of 16, I’ve lived in some of the largest cities in the world, with their hustle and bustle, and impersonal atmosphere, I don’t particularly like that either.  Instead, I’ve chosen to settle in a suburban area; close to the city, but also not far from the quiet of a rural setting.

My time in cities, though, has, I fear, equipped me with a hard shell of cynicism that rears its ugly head from time to time.

Case in point:  recently, as my wife and I were leaving a store in a nearby shopping center, we were approached by a young lady.  She needed help, she pleaded; her car was out of gas, she’d left her debit card at home, and her cousin, who worked in an office in the center wasn’t at work that day.  As I routinely respond to panhandlers on the street, or the people who manage to get into the subway station without enough cash to get out (or so they say), I told her that I had no cash on me.  That’s okay, she quipped, there’s an ATM machine close by.  She even added a bit about her daughter in school, and the fact that her house was too far away to walk.

Now, everything she said just might have been true, but my cynic’s antenna buzzed.  Why would someone leave home and drive such a distance with the tank so low?  Who leaves home without their credit or debit cards, or at least a couple of dollars in their pocket?  Who, having forgotten to bring along their debit card, scouts the area for ATM machines.  One of these I might buy, but that’s three too many coincidences to assuage my suspicious nature.  I just got in my car, closed the door and drove off.

I feel a little guilty; but, only a little.  There will be some naïve, trusting soul who will buy her story and give her five or ten bucks – she might even ask for their name and address to pay them back.  If miracles come true, she might even do it.  But, not me; sorry to be such a hard-hearted curmudgeon, but I’ve lived in cities too long.