Sunday, October 10, 2004

Surrogate Badger back by unexpectedly popular demand with…

Stranger Danger – Part 3

The memory triggered by Anita’s comment on that last post, is still clear in my mind, even a decade or more after it happened. I had just joined the very long pre-Christmas holiday line at the Post Office when a young woman, bearing babe in arms, came in behind me. She was struggling with the baby and a package, so I offered to hold the package for her, and we naturally started talking about the beauty and wonder of her child. The little one was squirmy, and the line was slow, and finally the young mother commented that if she had realized it would be so long, she would have brought in the baby’s stroller and “stuff” to keep her occupied. Ever-so-hesitantly, mindful of course that no one it their right mind would take me up on such an offer, I suggested that if she would like me to hold both the baby and her place in line while she went out to her car, I would be more than happy to do so. With no apparent hesitation whatsoever, she handed her daughter to me, and left! To this day, I can still recall the incredible flood of emotions that swept over me. The first thing I noticed was an instant up-welling of maternal feelings, the likes of which I had not experienced for years. I swear, if she’d started to fuss, I would have lactated on the spot! Holding a baby under any circumstances just does powerful things to any mother’s memory modules, and mine were no exception. Simultaneously, I observed that the man who had come into the line behind us now seemed rather unsavory. I turned away immediately, putting my body between him and the baby, but he moved around to the side and started cooing over her and admiring her, “too closely” in my protective opinion. What was that mother thinking?! She’d been gone so long already. What if she never came back??!! What would I do if the guy tried to actually *touch* the baby???!!! Folks (and this is the part that I remember to this day with crystal clarity) there was not a doubt in my mind that I would willingly have laid down my life to protect that child! Even with children and a family of my own to think about, I would not have hesitated for a second to do whatever it might take to preserve that little life. It was the clearest demonstration I’ve ever had of the instinct to protect the young of the species. I was already well-acquainted with the “Mother Lion” reaction when my own children were being threatened, but this child belonged to a complete and total stranger. Absolutely amazing. Fortunately, that instinct was not put to the test, because at that moment the mom, with stroller, returned, and all was well. I marveled to her (something just barely short of chiding as I recall) that she had been so willing to leave her precious infant, even for such a public moment, in the arms of a stranger, to which she replied “But, I knew I could trust you!”. How? How did she know that? Was the neon sign that says “Trustworthy Woman” turned on and flashing above my forehead? And how did Our Badger know that I was to be trusted with her blog baby for this extended “loan”? Not fishing for accolades here, folks, honest. Just trying to underscore my point that trust goes a long way in the world. I know, I know…there are plenty of circumstances where you should *never* trust a stranger, and of course you have to be selective and street-smart and all that good stuff. But gosh, aren’t we all a little better off going through life expecting the best from people, rather than anticipating that the worst might happen at any moment? Ok, this is getting too saccharine even for my tolerant taste. But those who actually know me will understand the heartfelt conviction behind these words, and I guess it’s served me well for quite a few years now. I’m not about to go over to the dark side any time soon.

Here’s to the cockeyed optimists of the world!

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