We are having some plumbing issues in our apartment building. Last week, a man from the floor above paid us a visit, enquiring if we had a broken or leaking pipe. I was home alone, so I only opened the door half way, did the polite small talk and told him there was nothing of that sort in my bathroom. There was, however, brownish stains on the ceiling (mildew) that had appeared overnight. He thanked for my cooperation and went on for a run.
Later in the evening, our hausmeister called and informed that some men will be checking plumbing and will need access to our bathroom. The next day, a man came, tried to figure out the problem, dug out two tiles from my bathtub and confirmed that there wasn’t a problem with my apartment’s plumbing. Also, someone will come to fix the broken tiles after confirming the time with us over the phone.
I slept in until noon the next day, and woke up to a note pasted on my door that someone had come from the plumbing company and if I could please call back for another appointment. Mister called and confirmed 8:30AM for coming Wednesday. It was Thursday that day.
On following Monday, a man rang my apartment’s doorbell, and requested for keys to the cellar. He wore the same bright orange uniform as the guy who visited us from plumbing company the other day, but…I didn’t know him. And while I only have copious trash in my cellar, others might have something valuable. I excused that the keys were with my husband and he was at work. I reasoned, better safe than sorry.
On Tuesday, another man from the apartment above paid us a visit. He said that he lived in the apartment right above mine, and that the plumbing company will be coming in to work tomorrow morning but he has to be at office early. He asked if I would be willing to keep the key to his apartment and hand it over to plumbers the next morning? After staring for 10 seconds, I forced my mouth shut, said a tad-exaggerated okay, took the keys and closed the door once he started climbing stairs to his home.
I was shocked. This man, who I didn’t know existed until three minutes ago, gave me his apartment’s key. This was the second time we had spoken in over two years – first being when he moved in and paid us a visit to warn about excessive noise his daughter might create on some days. He also apologised for it in advance. Truth be told, I have never heard a child creating fuss to date.
Back to the trust issue. I felt slightly ashamed that I couldn’t give my key to our cellar to the plumbing guys but this stranger trusted me with his entire apartment. And not only me but also strangers from the plumbing company. The man is question is German, and his actions made me realise something very important about myself.
Despite living a sheltered life by many standards, my society, city and people made me wary of strangers. Many would say that it is for my own good, but I can’t help feeling that it deprived me of the opportunity to experience exhilarating openness and instant human connectivity. I assess, judge and am cautious.
I am not an expert or even remotely qualified to comment on ways to nurture personalities, but I do think that if you live in a place that offers safety and security, maybe we can still learn to trust strangers as adults. There are more evil people out there than the world will ever need, but there are also countless good, harmless individuals who can only add to your life – if you let them.
WARNING: As far as children are concerned, I still agree that not trusting strangers is the way to go. They are defenseless and exposed to all kinds of perils around them. They need to be protected at all times. Like Zainab was meant to be.
Photo courtesy: Human Unlimited