I’m Not a Fan of the Brave New World

I’ve felt a rant coming on ever since I left the Aldi parking lot this morning. Aldi has been the scene of most of my interesting encounters lately.

Last week, when I was shopping at Aldi on Wednesday morning, I noticed that there was a young man I knew in the store. He didn’t appear to recognize me, so I didn’t make a point of greeting him. It turns out he was shopping with his roommate, and I saw them check out and leave the store while I was still waiting in line to check out.

Then, when I was at the sacking counter bagging my groceries, this young man and his friend came back into the store and made a beeline for me. He had eventually realized who I was, and the two of them had returned to the store to offer their help. They helped me bag my groceries, pushed the cart out to the car, and loaded the bags into the car for me. It was so kind of them, and I was very grateful. Later I found out it was “random acts of kindness day,” but I like to think they would have helped me anyway!

Today, I had another experience that contrasted with last week’s encounter. I was buying supplies for tomorrow’s chai party, so my cart was piled high as I pushed it out to my car. I had parked my car in a “pull-through” space and there was an empty space on either side and behind it. As I reached the car, a large pickup truck pulled into the space beside the one behind me on the passenger side, even though it could have pulled up right beside me because that space was also free.

I heard the truck’s window going down, and a man’s voice asked, “Do you need me to pull back? Do you have enough room?” (I thought it was kind of an odd question because I had free spaces on either side of my car and also behind it!)

By this time I had the trunk open. “No,” I said, without looking up at him. “I’ve got plenty of room.” I started hoisting the heavy bags from the cart and into my trunk.

“Would you like some help with that?” he asked.

“No thanks, I can handle it,” I answered, “but thanks for offering.”

He didn’t say anything else but I also did not hear him get out of his truck. I quickly finished getting my bags in the trunk and returned the cart to get my quarter. When I walked back to the car, I noticed that there was a man sitting in the passenger seat using his phone. I could not tell if the driver was still there because of the glare off the windows.

Now here’s my problem: I found this incident a little disturbing. A week ago, when someone offered help, I gladly accepted it because it was someone I knew. Today, when someone offered help, my first thought was that he might not be on the up-and-up. I’ve been so conditioned by recent news stories to suspect anyone who offers anything of sinister intent. There’s a pretty good chance that this guy was just a traditional Texan gentleman whose mama raised him right. But in today’s world, I couldn’t assume that. I couldn’t take that risk.

That really bothers me. People that have been raised to be helpful and polite are going to be increasingly rebuffed because of fears that they are some form of predator. I hate that.


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