Today a man knocked on my door with a couple of rakes and a bag of trash bags, and he asked me if he could rake my leaves. I don’t usually open my door to strangers, but I did for some reason today. I told him no before I thought about it, and then he offered to do it for $20 and stressed that he was really fast and could have it done in a second. I told him my landlord usually has someone who does it for me (he doesn’t) and then I wished him luck.
I told him no before I thought about it because I don’t like interacting with people at all, especially at my house. More importantly, I live alone and I avoid having any sort of involvement at all with men I don’t know. I’ve lived alone a lot, and I feel perfectly comfortable with it, but I do try not to draw attention to it, and strange men dropping by out of nowhere make me nervous. Most people reading this will probably understand this and will say that it’s a wise apprehension to have. But really, I’m 99% certain that if I had allowed this guy to rake my yard, he would have raked my yard (which I did need done), been very happy for the money (which I could easily afford), and gone about his day.
I said no because of a fear that wasn’t really even very convincing. And sure, I can blame him for going door-to-door in this day and age, for persisting (however politely) after I said no the first time. But really, he didn’t do anything wrong. If you need money and can’t get a job for whatever reason, that’s a pretty decent way to go about earning it, or it would be if we weren’t all afraid of each other now.
I said no out of reflex. I felt bad about it as soon as I closed the door. And I’ve thought about it since, because I’ve been very judgmental this week about the various irrational ways that many people respond to fear.
Real fear is extremely remote in my life. I almost never have to confront it. Statistically speaking, I am one of the least likely women on the planet to come to harm, but even so, I do feel afraid sometimes. When I feel afraid, I try hard not to give into my fear. I tell myself very sternly that what I’m feeling is irrational, that it’s a fear that society has tried very hard to instill in me for various reasons that have little to do with reality and everything to do with keeping me in my place. And that works, when I have the time to be logical.
Still, today I saw that when I’m confronted with even the mildest whisper of potential threat, this is how I react — reflexively, without even thinking about it. I should remember this, and try to do better.