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It’s the sort of comment you would expect any parent to impart to their children. “Never talk to strangers.” Sound advice if you’re a child, but not something you would expect one adult to tell another. But that’s the advice I was given when I visited Los Angeles.

“Never talk to strangers. There’s a lot of bad people out there.” This was what a friend in America said. That’s the one piece of advice I was given… and it’s the one piece of advice I ignored.

I remember changing planes in America and being greeted by cops with drawn guns, running towards me screaming for me and other passengers to move out of their way.

In Los Angeles itself there wasn’t a day that went by without police sirens sounding off in the distance. Although not a war zone, the police presence and the dire warning are enough to make anyone wary of their surroundings… anyone except me, that is. Having lived in Northern Ireland and walked through neighborhoods deemed out of bounds, I know to expect the unexpected.

So when my American friend and I came across a guy in a wheelchair, struggling to get himself out of his chair and into his van, I immediately offered assistance. Judging by the tattoos on his arms I guessed the guy was a veteran and he was most appreciative of my help. My American friend on the other hand held back and even berated me for helping the man. I have never understood that sort of attitude and would do the same again today, tomorrow or any other day. Perhaps that’s what’s missing in the world, a sense of duty toward our fellow human beings.

Tom Kane © 2018

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