I posted this on Instagram: “They’re not reacting to YOU. They’re reacting to their IMAGE of you.”
A couple of weeks ago, I was walking down the street and I was approached by a guy who I assume was homeless.
He asked me if I had $5. No, I didn’t. I almost never carry cash on me.
He then asked if I would walk with him to Burger King and buy him something. Sure, why not? I wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere.
“You’re not homophobic, are you?”
I told him I wasn’t.
I was, however, a little bit nervous. He was a stranger, and he was very chatty. I also didn’t want to get COVID from him.
“I’d rather you didn’t touch the bag of food, though. Do you mind if we stop in CVS and you can buy something there and get cash back, and I’ll take the cash and go into Burger King and bring back the change?”
We went into CVS. I bought a pack of gum and got $10 cash back.
At this point, I knew this was a routine of some kind, but I figured the worst that would happen is I would lose $10, so I went along with it.
We walked to Burger King, and I gave him the $10. He told me he’d be right back, and I waited outside, leaning against the brick wall.
I was about ready to leave when he came back out, no food in his hands.
“They’re making the food now. It will take a few minutes.”
I told him that was OK, and asked him how much money I was waiting for.
“I don’t know. Probably not too much. You don’t trust me, do you?”
I was getting irritated.
“No, I don’t,” I said.
I’m not going to hand a $10 bill to a stranger and expect to get anything back. I was waiting outside of Burger King because he told me to wait there. This was obviously some elaborate ploy, and now he was using shame to finish the job. 😠
“Just keep it. It’s fine.” I told him.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah,” I said, and walked away.
I have no idea what he thought of me. He doesn’t know me. He only knows what he saw on that day. His behavior was based on his image of me.
I don’t know him. I only know what I saw only that day. My behavior was based on my image of him.
And now, I have a story to tell about it.
I wonder what story he told. I like to think that he was expecting me to say, “no, I do trust you,” and that he now has a story about the one guy who violated his expectations.
But, I have no idea.
Either way, they’re just stories.
My mind can imagine all sorts of stories around this situation. I’m glad I don’t take any of them too seriously.