The Trash Blog

Don’t Talk to Strangers

“You could sleep in a tent in the rain…or you could stay at our place.”

These have got to be the most unnerving words I’ve heard on the trash blog (although Margaret saying, “It’s red!” is also pretty unsettling).

In Connecticut, we had arranged to meet with a company called Duck Truck Composting. The plan was to do the interview in the late afternoon and move on to a nearby campground. While we were waiting for Lexi and Dana, who make up the core of Duck Truck, it began to rain.

I would like to tell you what the subject of this picture is, but the cascading rain gets in the way and even I, who was there, cannot tell what's going on here.

I would like to tell you what the subject of this picture is, but the cascading rain gets in the way and even I, who was there, cannot tell what’s going on here.

By the end of the interview, I asked if they had ever camped at the place we were headed. They said they hadn’t and without missing a beat, Dana added, Why go there? You could come stay with us.

My first thought was, clearly we cannot accept this offer because they might murder us in our sleep. We don’t know them. And we might be an inconvenience–they might only be offering because they feel they have to. Also: they could rape us, or drug us, or do something nasty to us, or we could get a disease or fungus or something, or they could get angry at us. We might get robbed. They might have awful hygiene standards or own a savage pet, or worse, it might be awkward.

For Litterbugs

How seriously do these people take their garbage? What if we don’t live up to their standards? What if we aren’t as earth-conscious?

So of course, we responded: “Thank you very much, but we wanted to have a fire and cook s’mores.” So we couldn’t stay with them. Lexi and Dana dubiously eyed the downpour in the streets: “Well, if you really want the camping experience, you could pitch your tent at the farm we’re working on. It’s really close. But we have a fire pit at our house, too. You could have a fire and sleep in a bed.”

This is often how hospitality outsmarts us, and it only adds to the fearful feeling. I think it’s because generosity and hospitality are things we cannot control. The motivation of genuine kindness is love, which is a thing difficult to wrap our heads around.

Our choices were sleep with strangers or on this: a half-flooded field of soggy grass. challenging circumstances bring out heroic responses in people.

Our choices were sleep with strangers or on this: a half-flooded field of soggy grass. challenging circumstances bring out heroic responses in people.

We hemmed. Though we didn’t voice them, our thoughts were similar. We would not be comfortable putting our lives in the hands of these two composting women. But both of us want to be the kind of people who can accept such hospitality without fear. We hawed. Why do we think that offers such as Lexi and Dana’s aren’t genuine? It’s so easy to imagine that if we accept we will be putting them out.

“If you don’t want to stay with us, it’s okay,” said Lexi. “Just an offer.”

I looked at Margaret. Margaret looked at me. We got our derring-do on. “Okay,” I said. “If you don’t mind, we accept.”

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This entry was written by Philip and published on November 18, 2013 at 10:39 pm. It’s filed under Community, Trashblogging and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Talk to Strangers

  1. Uncle Chris on said:

    Later, about 3 am, I felt a sharp poke in the ribs. Margaret whispered, “Did you hear THAT?” . . . . .

  2. Catherine on said:

    Whoa! Where is Uncle Chris’ post?

  3. Catherine on said:

    This humorously feels a little tangential to the main focus of Trash Blog BUT I love it! I love it because I find it funny that you share this struggle on a blog! And I love it precisely because you share.. And it makes me take a humorous look at my own acceptance of help/ care/ hospitality (I’ve had two really good trainers recently :). )

  4. crepusculy on said:

    So sad that we live in a society where there is so much fear surrounding strangers. I’m glad you were able to overcome it! I suggest checking out Couchsurfing.org and AirBNB. I’ve stayed with strangers many times, and hosted strangers many times, both from those sites and as friends-of-friends. I genuinely enjoy hosting guests, whether or not I know them in advance. It’s such a wonderful way to share trust and kindness, and to meet great folks.

  5. I think you nailed it with “it might be awkward”. Oh no!

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