Kevin and Michael needed a ride home from the train last night so I picked them up. After a glass of wine at their house I drove back toward mine. It was raining more than a little but not a complete downpour. At one intersection there was a woman standing in the street in the rain, waving. Thinking she might need help, I slowed to a stop, all while wondering what the hell I was planning to do if she did. Picking up strangers in the hood isn't usually a wise move. She walked over to the car and looked in with a huge grin. A man was standing not far away on the opposite side of the street, watching us. I smiled back at her but shook my head no very slightly and didn't roll down the window. She continued grinning as I just drove away.
It took a minute for all this to click in my head. She was probably in her 40s, looked like someone's sweet Grandmother, not badly dressed at all. She definitely seemed whacked out, and looked so happy that someone had stopped.
Most of my neighbors would probably have called the cops. It was right in my own neighborhood, on a fairly major street. I thought about how it isn't good for the property values. (Nice attitude, right? Don't worry about the woman, worry about how much your house is worth.) But last night I was in a "live and let live" mood, so I let it go.
And since I believe all things happen for a reason, I have to wonder if the reason for this was to teach me, a woman from the South, that waving back at people that wave to you from strange cars isn't always wise, especially if you are in the hood. A few months after the events described above, I was walking down a street where prostitutes are known to do business when a car pulled up next to me and the driver waved. I had the good sense to put my head down and keep walking.
The woman in question also recently walked by when I was getting in my car in front of my house and asked for a ride. I guess we are friends now. Again, the Southerner in me hesitated, but the wise woman in me won that round.