The traffic light turned green and all the vehicles tried to move at the same time; the clonking of horns, the drivers shouting at the top of their voices; what a cacophony! I poked my head out of the window and saw that there’s still a very long line of vehicles before ours; I just knew we wouldn’t make it before the traffic light turned red again. I would not pray for this kind of craziness for anyone especially when you are already late for work.
Now I understand what Lagos people are going through.
I was still observing the traffic when a young lady, no more than 30; with a sun burnt face appeared beside our bus. She stood close to the open door carrying an empty bucket enclosed on one arm and a piece of cloth on the other. She was speaking Ibibio laced with English; Asking for money to buy a bag of satchet water to sell. I was overcome with emotion at the pitiful sight of her when it occurred to me that this may be a camouflage and she might be stashing the money somewhere and remitting it to one red clothed babalawo.
Haha! I laugh. I am incredulous in my thinking but can you blame me? Our desire to believe what we’ve been told coupled with our urge to perform occasional good deeds leaves us vulnerable. We take people at face value, which sets us up as pigeons to be taken advantage of.
I had turned to look at the passengers behind when the very nice young man sitting in the front seat suddenly erupted. It was only then I realized he was vocally impaired; he was gesticulating wildly.
I could understand a bit of sign language so I knew he was trying to tell us not to give her anything; that she is always at this very spot begging continuously. The other passengers burst out laughing. And the lady in question, just muttered, “na wa o” and simply walked away from our bus.
Now this is not my first experience with distressed strangers neither will it be the last. Everyday, we hear stories of how people have been duped when trying to help strangers. This has led to people hardening their hearts against helping people in distress.
How do you guys feel about this situation especially as God has solemnly commanded us in Matthew 22:39 to love our neighbour as ourselves; and also to do good to others as we would want them to do unto us. What is your experience and do you feel like you can help distressed strangers?