I was waiting near a bus shelter for a street car to appear, on my way to a Good Evidence meeting, headphones in my ear listening to some Rafi song. This woman approaches me and starts to say something. My first assumption is that she’s going to ask for directions or something. I often have people ask me for directions (huge mistake on their part, but what do they know).
“Hi, how are you?” she says.
This startles me somewhat, I’m not used to having random people ask me how I am. I just say hello waiting for her to continue to the real matter of her appearance. But she waits for me to answer her question. “I’m doing fine, how are you?” I offer in return. I remove my headphones assuming that this conversation will actually happen.
“I’m doing well. Can I ask you a question?”
“Do you like children?”
And at this point my mind is racing through different scenarios. Who is this person? Why is she asking me this question? Is she a cop? Is this an appropriate question to ask a lone man on the streets? Am I in trouble if I say yes? And am I an asshole if I say no?
“Yeah, I like children,” my final answer.
“If you had a chance to save a child’s life, would you do it?”
Aaaah, this is where this is going.
“Maybe,” I say.
This startles her. What seems like a morally straightforward question should lead itself to a positive answer. But not tonight.
“Maybe?” she repeats, half offended.
“Yeah, maybe. It depends.”
Now she starts her pitch, pulling out a folder from what seems like thin air. The World Vision logo on the cover. A few sentences in, I stop her.
“Listen, I’m going to save you some time,” I say, like I’m doing her a favour, “I’m getting on this next street car and you’re going to have better luck with someone else.”
In hindsight I should have asked her, “Do you like kittens? If you had a chance to save a kitten, would you do it?” and then pulled out a folder of my own.