Tonight, as I was walking home from the bus stop, I noticed a guy walking in front of me. It looked like he was snapping a rhythm with his fingers and I was curious.
“Are you snapping?” I yelled at him. He turned around, a little surprised, and said yes. He likes to snap and hum and whistle to himself sometimes when he’s walking. I like to do the same thing, except I can’t whistle. He shared in my despair, explaining that for a while, he couldn’t whistle either . But when he started to play the trumpet, he suddenly found himself able to whistle.
His name is Andy. He is my stranger of the day. He’s studying international relations at UBC. He likes to ride his bike but hasn’t been riding it to school lately because it’s broken. He has plans to get it fixed soon.
Our encounter was as short as the walk home, but it was a particularly significant conversation with a stranger for me. It was dark outside and Andy’s a male. I’ve been told to never walk alone in the dark, and to never talk to strangers, especially while walking home in the dark, especially if they’re men. But today I did. And now I know that learning how to play the trumpet might be the solution to my whistling woes.
I acknowledge, realize, and respect that it’s important to be cautious of your surroundings and to be safe. But sometimes — perhaps counterintuitively — trusting strangers can be a way of embracing safe spaces, making neighbourhoods more welcoming and warm in the process.