trusting strangers

I really enjoy travelling because I get the opportunity to walk outside my comfort zone. Opportunity, perhaps, is not the right word. I am dumped out of my comfort zone surrounded with life boats that don’t always speak English and I don’t always know how to utilize. But it works out, I learn to adapt and the greatest thing, I have to talk and put my trust in strangers. I learn to find those kind and helpful beings who take a moment out of their lives to help a traveler. I am forever thankful. As a child I don’t think I was ever told never to talk to strangers but somewhere along the line there was instilled in me this fear of doing so. Perhaps it came from reading so many books, or maybe movies. Half of the time “stranger danger” as portrayed in these types of media are a joke, I wonder how often this then translates into a subconscious fear. At home you are in familiar territory and you can rely completely on yourself. That is not as easy to do abroad. Travelling reminds you how to ask for help.




Another perk of travelling, bonds that usually take months to form are created over a matter of days. People travel to meet people, or at least I do. When I am in my home I find it hard to have this amount of openness. I wonder if it is an American thing, this self-reliance. Or perhaps it is because everything is so mundane that rather than seeing how other people can be incorporated into our daily lives we take too much upon ourselves. Perhaps this is why so many people are always stressed. There is tension associated with trusting strangers, but also a huge sense of relief because in their eyes you are another adult who may have a question, suggestion or be in need of help. There is space there to develop who you are and what you have to share.

 
I was reminded of this space the other day. I was in the train station. I have huge amounts of stress associated with public transportation because I never had to, or even had the opportunity to use it, when I was younger. Instead, I got my license at 16 and had the independence of driving my car wherever and whenever I wanted. This is independence, sure, but it doesn’t really teach trust or timing. While sitting at the train station I jumped up every 10 minutes to check if my train was still on time (it was, and I had over an hour wait). I had a lovely half-conversation with a young man who spoke very little English. Between my few words of Hebrew we came to the understanding that I would like to charge my phone next to his since this was the only charging port I saw in the terminal. He was gracious enough to scooch over on the tiny ledge so that I could perch there as is wrestled with his, apparently, broken cord. With my few Hebrew words and his somewhat shy smiles I offered him to try my phone block to plug his usb into but it was no use, his cord was busted. After a few minutes fiddling with the cord he found someone to borrow a cord off of. We sat in amicable, semi-awkward-perched-on-a-ledge silence for a good half hour. I gave myself a good 25 minutes before my train arrived to find my platform, just in case. Even the silent company was much appreciated.
 
This, to me, is an example of how I do not trust the system. I did not trust that when the website and the board at the train station said the southbound train to Paate Modi’in came in at 9:45, I did not trust it to show up and for a moment I wished I had a car, just so I could drive myself. I held back  asking someone on the platform if I was actually at the right platform; I knew I had read the information correct but asking may have given me more peace of mind.  
 
The train ride was uneventful. The trains seem so pulled together and organized compared to the bus system here. You can even charge your phone while you are riding. The plugs are often, it seems, in the ceiling. When I boarded the train it looked as if everyone had hung their phones, a sea of cords from the ceiling. Another nice thing, the train moved so smoothly I never felt fear of falling down like I do pretty every time I am on bus. The stops are also announced in English as well as Hebrew. I am confident enough to figure out my stop in Hebrew but it was great to have the confirmation.
 
After the 27 minute train ride I had a 35 minute walk from the train station to the farm I am staying at. I was hoping the first time I was going to do this was going to be in the light of day, but that was not to be. At a bit after 10 I headed out of the train station on foot. For a moment I thought I was going to have to walk on the side of the road but then a dirt track became apparent on the side of the road. A hop and skip over the guardrail and I suddenly had less fear of being run over. The thought of hitchhiking crossed my mind but as I got into the rhythm of walking under a sky full of stars I realized I was perfectly happy. As the smell of the cooling evening reached my nose I realized that this was perfect, a 35 minutes was nothing.
 
I had just reached that point of blissful meditative walking where the balance felt just right when a taxi pulled to the side of the road in front of me. It had driven past me so it backed up until the open passenger window was level with me. I felt myself groan internally. Too often there have been pushy drivers who try their hardest to get me to take taxis, no matter how often I tell them that I cannot afford it. This, however, was one of those little unexpected helping hands that came just at a good time. The current passenger worked for the train. Just from my backpack and violin he deduced that I was going to Hava ve Adam and he said he saw people often walking back along the road to the farm. He seemed genuinely shocked that anyone would take it upon themselves to walk the half hour or so to the farm. For no money I got a ride to the road to the farm and in 5 minutes I got almost 20 minutes off my walk. Though the walk was nice it was good to cut the time in half. It has given me this time to write before bed.



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