Thursday, January 20, 2011

Strangers used to offer sandwiches to each other

English: Darby Street being turned into shared...
English: Darby Street being turned into shared space in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Somewhere recently I read that a couple helping the poor no longer is allowed to take food to street people in their city. They had been doing this for many years, yet suddenly local powers drew a sharp broad line between their generous caring, giving, and receiving and the people receiving and often depending on them. 
     I tried to imagine some of the reasons given, including the one reason I read about: "You'll need to apply for a vendor's give food." Others might include: 

--"You might give someone food poisoning."
--"You could annoy local businesses."
--"You might be "taken in' by one of the street people."
--"They might be dangerous."

Has any time tried to play it as safe, officially, as this time we live in?

It used to be, not that long ago, that regular people shared food with each other without any licensing  or suspicion. They shared a sandwich or snack easily and without suspicion with the poor and with each other on a bus or a train, which many people used in those days. This included people who shared space and not even names or other personal information. Can such actions happen again, ever, without a license...or dealing with someone that has one? Or without fear? And right now, who is taking food to those street people once fed by a caring couple who knew what they were doing for so many years? Who is helping those unable to care for themselves, yet not agreeable to shelters? Those still on that city's streets, in the news.

A well-to-do man once moved into a new neighborhood on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Neighbors brought him a cake. He called his realtor to tell her about it. "What do they want?" he asked.

"What do you mean?" she questioned back.

"Well, what do they want from me?"

"They don't want anything. They just wanted to give you a cake, to welcome you to the neighborhood."

Pause "'s all right then?"

The man was not lacking in anything but experience of neighborliness and trust, it seems. His realtor told me this story, protecting his identity. The man had moved farther from DC and into a quieter, more rural part of Maryland. Yes, that suspicion of friendliness really happened...and a cake delivered by a stranger, a new neighbor, without a license.
     'Don't know if the man stayed on the Eastern Shore. Maybe he did, and by now does what almost everyone does there...waving to friends and strangers from trucks and cars passing on country roads. Maybe by now he knows it's all right to accept cakes and even to take another one now and then from or to a stranger down the street. Maybe he no longer sees risk around every corner or fears offers of human kindness.

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