something about everything

Trusting Strangers: a Way of Life

Do you trust strangers? Of course you do. Our lives depend on trusting strangers. You wouldn’t leave your house if you didn’t trust strangers.

This is what I thought the other day as I watched a cop walking the beat on my commuter train. He’s “packing,” of course. He’s a big guy with a big gun hanging from his holster.  I look at him and he says “good morning” very softly.  I say it back.

We all feel secure with him there. But why do we feel secure?  He is a stranger with a gun. We feel secure because he is a stranger with a gun wearing a police uniform, the universal symbol that he’s here to protect us. We all rest easily.

But if he weren’t wearing a uniform we would all be frozen in fear…terrified.

But then I think: We trust that he is a cop. How hard, really, is it to get a facsimile of a police uniform?  We hear stories on the news about police imposters stopping cars on the highways.

And if we’re sure that he is a cop, we trust that he’s not a psychopath who happens to be a cop who wants to kill us all. We live by trusting strangers.

We trust that drivers will stop at red lights; we trust that chefs in restaurants won’t poison us; we trust that the pilot who soars our plane up to 35,000 feet isn’t suicidal.

US Airways Rumored To Be Pushing For American Airlines Merger

We always trust strangers; it’s a way of life.


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