Every day we bump into strangers.
These people that we come across every morning or during hours of darkness aren’t solely nobody. These people could strangely teach us tiny bits of lessons in life, they could be a reason for us to smile, they could even be an eye-opener, or maybe they could even change us. As a commuter, I got accustomed to spending my tedious travel time trying to figure out the people that I sit with inside a jeepney or even the people that I jostle with during rush hours inside the train. Whenever I am walking through a crowd of unfamiliar faces, I always make sure that I get a glimpse of everyone and everything that is happening around me. I habitually take time to develop my sense of understanding when it comes to cultural differences of people, and this led me to realize that these people that we encounter are not merely strangers.
They are something else.
Quite a few of the strangers that I encountered made an impression on me that even after years I can still vividly remember who they are, what they did, and even the exact place it happened. These people left me with not just a heartwarming story to tell but also paranoia that has been living deep inside me for years.
Remember when our parents used to tell us that stranger danger when we were kids?
I was in 2nd grade when paranoia started creeping inside my head. A pick-pocket preyed on me inside a jeepney while I’m on my way to school. I had no idea that I could just simply scream or ask my mom for help while he was hiding his arms inside his jacket and secretly searching for my skirt’s pocket. I froze as soon as I felt his icy cold hand, and as I was a naïve little girl I had no idea if he was just simply looking for a penny or he was also trying to touch me. I never know, all I knew was that stranger danger, and that hasn’t changed even now that we grew up.
As I grew up, paranoia also started growing deep roots inside me. I am always suspicious whenever someone gets too close, and I always make sure that I appear nonchalant when I am surrounded by strangers. This paranoia became both a good and bad thing for it is making me more vigilant, but it also causes me to quickly assume who someone is.
You see, these people that we call strangers are much more than just someone that we passed by. They become part of our daily routines, some will test our patience, some of them will bring out the humanity that has been dormant inside us just by simply giving them a bottled water when thirst is unbearable or handing them a fan when it gets too hot on the road, while some will leave an imprint on us that will inevitably change us and the way we see things.
That’s why the people we encounter are not merely strangers,
They are more than just a stranger.