Talk To Strangers

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Twice a week, every Monday and Thursday afternoon, I go to physical therapy at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Due to the complications of hemophilia, I have severe arthritis in three joints. My right ankle from being a child and always spraining it, my left knee when I hyperextended it playing football as a kid, and my right elbow that was shattered as a teenager when I was assaulted by a police officer.

My physical therapist is Heidi and has healed so many people and made them walk again, I’m sure she received her training from one of the apostles. As I arrived for my PT, there was a girl walking on the treadmill. I always use the bike, but last week I graduated to the treadmill since my joints are now stronger. I was looking forward to the treadmill but this young lady was using it, so I went back to the bike instead.

Having hemophilia has exposed me to a lot of people with cancer. Don’t believe me? Just look up a cancer doc. They are almost exclusively called hematologist/oncologist. Cancer docs are blood docs and blood docs are cancer docs. I won’t go into why this is but trust you me, it was and is a blessing to people diagnosed with hemophilia. Every med student wants to cure cancer, no one one to work on hereditary bleeding disorders that effect zero-point-no-one of the population. So by default, we with hemophilia get some bright guys and gals who work on us.

When people witness or hear about my dealings with hemophilia, a lot of sympathy gets thrown my way. Please, no need. All my life I shared waiting rooms with kids suffering from cancer. I was going to make next year’s annual appointment, most of them would not.

The girl on the treadmill was obviously recovering from cancer. Her hair was nearly buzz cut short, but growing back. I could not see her face because she had on a medical mask on and the physical therapist was gowned up as well.

While she walked, I peddled. I decided to multitask and check my e-mail on my phone. I read a great post in my in-box by Chris Guillebeau, author of one of my favorite books, The Art of Non-Conformity. The name of the post is Most People Are Good. You can read the post here. http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/most-people-are-good/

In it, he basically challenges the notion that children shouldn’t talk to strangers, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a strange concept to grasp at first but it makes total sense. Most people are good and not to be feared. All we do as adults is place our jaded outlook on kids. We tell ourselves, “I’m telling little Cindy not to talk to strangers to protect her,” but what we are really saying is, “I trust no one and only see and expect the worst in people and little Cindy needs to learn to have that rotten perspective like me too.”

One day, my mom, my niece, and myself were traveling somewhere in my car. My niece had done something wrong and my mom and me were piling on her. From the back seat, full of stress and frustration, she yelled, “OK!”, as to say enough. And she was right. We were filling her with self doubt, needlessly hammering a point she already knew.

Too many times, we adults think we have things figured out. In our attempts to help we at times harm more than often.

The little girl finished with the treadmill and sat down to start on some upper body exercise. That was right about the same time I finished reading Chris’ post. And like on queue, she did not listen to what all those scary adults told her and she talked to a stranger; me.

“Don’t your feet hurt?” she asked me.

“Yeah,” I answered, “but I know that the more I do this, my feet will be stronger so they’ll hurt less later.”

“How long are you going to be on there?”

“15-minutes. And you? How long were you on the treadmill?”

“25-minutes.”

“Wow! Hopefully I get as good as you one day.”

Even though she had her mask on, I could see her facial muscles make a smile.

I smiled too.

Most people are good. The stranger that talked to me today reinforced that.

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4 thoughts on “Talk To Strangers

  1. Love this. Fear is a poison, and we too often experience negative effects on our bodies for things that haven’t even happened. I teach 8th grade, and even with my kiddos who are developmentally wired to question the world and all authority, I see them holding on to so many fears and doubts. The thought of anything less than an A sends some of them into panic mode, as if the whole rest of their lives hinges on what they earn in 8th grade English.

    Great post~thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Ellen. Means a lot to me that you read and posted. I love your writing.
      We adults think we need to teach children when we are the ones that should be learning from them.

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