Meeting Daniel

There is nothing more likely to incite anger in the community, than petty theft. Especially when most of us work hard to purchase sought after or sentimental items and build a sanctuary where we can relax and enjoy the fruits of our labours. When something is stolen, we feel violated and angry. New homes, like the one I moved to recently, are often targets for criminals and petty theft.

sandy beach

So it was while relaxing this Friday, secure in the knowledge that this week’s Friendly Friday Photo Challenge, Simple Joys, was in the very capable hands of first time host, Sandy, from The Sandy Chronicles, that I was dragged back to reality by a car horn, blasting urgently, outside my door.

Something was clearly very wrong.

A thoughtful neighbour had pulled up outside in his car, to alert me that our garage door was open, and with no MotH in sight, they’d seen a stranger dressed in black, carting out two large carry bags from our Home by the Sea.

Glancing up the laneway, near the house, I indeed saw a figure dressed in black, carrying two large bags and talking on a mobile phone. Oh dear, I thought, has he taken some tools or something of value from the MotH’s garage?

Te Mata Peak New Zealand

Quickly shouting thanks to the neighbour, and with the MotH still nowhere in earshot, (despite me earnestly yelling his name), I approached the stranger cautiously, trying my best to look as if I was going for nothing more than a casual walk.

Yeh, it is me. Come now. I’ve got some really good stuff,” I overheard this figure mutter into his mobile phone.

Oh goodness! What has this dude stolen? I thought.

My mind was racing, imagining all sorts of things. Where was the MotH when I needed him?

Should I go back and find him first?

Should I shut the garage door and ring the police?

Totally dumbstruck for the correct protocol to use when approaching a potential thief, I tentatively asked,

“Hi, can I help you? Are you looking for something, or someone?”

“Oh, Hi, yeh, umm, I’ve just been collecting bottles for recycling,”said this young man of about 30 odd years, pointing to the bags.

Have a look,” he said, sweating heavily and clearly picking up on my suspicions.

I approached a little closer and peered into his carry bag to see an array of plastic bottles, the sort you take back to the containers for change refunding collections centres, for the paltry refund the government has introduced.

“And I’ve got electrical wiring, too” he said, opening up his second bag to show me.

” It is heavy, I reckon about 26 kgs,” he continued, offering for me to feel its weight. It was indeed heavy and he’d revealed he’d carried it for several kilometres through the new estate.

“All these new houses, the tradies just chuck away stuff that can be salvaged and reused,” he explained.

Smiling, and offering me his hand, he said, “My name’s Daniel,” revealing a single yellow tooth, “..and so now you know, I’m not pinching stuff. Just trying to make a few dollars. I can’t get work, you see, and I get so bored watching TV.”

Daniel proceeded to tell me he spends his days painstakingly removing all the plastic covering from the excess electrical wiring he salvages from the dump bins on building sites. Then sells the wire to the scrapyard in the neighbouring suburb.

My heart sank as he filled in yet more details of his life, seemingly eager for someone to listen to him. As a young lad not endowed with a great start in life, education wise, and few real opportunities, he had fallen into the wrong crowd some time back, and it didn’t end well.

“I have had so much crap in my life,” he said.

He told me he’d experienced periodic work but physical disability, homelessness and long term umemployment had dogged him for many years, until bad friends finally landed him foul of the law.

I found out the hard way no friends are better than bad friends,” he said, his eyes downcast.

Now I just try to do something good with my time.” he muttered philosophically. “You only have one life.”

“So I am not pinching stuff,” he reinforced again, suddenly serious and looking me in the eye, in case I doubted him. Instead of walking away, I stood there listening to him tell me his heartbreaking story and felt ashamed for initally thinking the worst of him.

Praising his efforts to help himself and and reduce the truckloads of Builder’s waste, I see around me every day, we shook hands and I promised to set aside plastic bottles and cans, for him to collect on his next run.

Here was a young man who had been through the wringer of life and was doing his best to become pro-active and do something to help himself and the planet.

Daniel was alright.

You can’t always judge a book by its cover.

Showing kindness to a stranger is infectious and costs nothing.

All of us would like to be listened to.

Final Twist

In case you were wondering what happened to the Moth, he was apparently completely aware that Daniel and I were chatting. He told me later that he had indeed poked his head around the corner, seen the conversation and causally waved a power drill back and forth, in his hand. A moment passed between Daniel and the MotH, and the MotH seemed certain Daniel had noted the power tool armed and ready!

60 thoughts on “Meeting Daniel

  1. I love this, Amanda…. What a great unexpected encounter. Although it must have been scary at first!

    Speaking of encounters… We’re in Sydney now, moving to Melbourne tomorrow, and I don’t get why my emails haven’t made it to your inbox. Can you drop me a line at cyranny@gmail.com, and I’ll give you news as to when we should be in your area. Hopefully we can meet in person then πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Have a lovely weekend! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • It did give me a scare for a minute, Chris. Especially when the neighbour was clearly agitated and here we were garage door wide open and the MoTH nowhere in site. We have started a “door down” policy when we drive out so we can see that the garage door is closed and down – if we don’t say it, it probably is not. We left it open when we were moving in – accidentally of course, and it happened to be the day of a thunderstorm so it was great that a kindly neighbour ran in and shut it for us by hitting the remote and running out quickly before the door closed. Do you have an auto garage door?

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    • Indeed. It is the one rarely found confidence trickster that we hear about in the tabloids that ruins it for all the other genuine souls who are doing it tough. Thank you for commenting. When I go to your blog Sharon, wordpress gives me that “it is no longer available,” message. Can you please post the direct url to your site, here?

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  2. Thats a great story Amanda. I think your kindly approach allowed Daniel to be open with you. I imagine if you’d come at him shouting and agressive, he’d had a different reaction. Im glad it worked out well.

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  3. We are often too quick to assume the worst aren’t we. I was fearing the worst when I started reading your post, but am so warmed by the turn it took. I’m sure Daniel appreciated your time and approach as much as you appreciated him telling you his story. It’s a lesson to us all to not be too quick to judge.

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    • Such kind words, Dusty Flipflops. Yo s sound like someone who would also listen to Daniel’s story. So often we Jump two conclusions that are often unfounded particularly in regard to people and whether we like them or not. . We decide in a blink of an eye whether they are someone deserving deserving a place in our circle of trust, or not. This fear of strangers might have been a protective mechanism for us, in terms of evolution, but must be guarded so that it doesn’t interfere with promising new relationships. I doubt that Daniel and I will have a close relationship but one never knows whst the future will bring – at least we are friends to begin with. What indicators do you watch for when deciding whether to trust a new acquaintenance, or not?

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      • I usually try to trust my instincts and in terms of situations, whether I feel comfortable or not. It can be very hard though, I have come to learn that first impressions can very often be wrong! I think you are right about the fear of strangers, it’s probably also something that is drilled into us children. But I try not to jump to conclusions too much and I must say, travelling has shown me (so far anyway!) that there is much more good out there, than evil!

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      • It is a good point you make about not jumping to conclusions and how travel can open one’s eyes to other way of interacting which whilst different, can still be safe. Trusting your instincts is a great operation modi, in new situations. Otherwise known as following your gut instinct, would you say?

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      • Often that intuition or gut feeling is the most accurate. Especially as you get older. Some might call it an internal radar. Only once has it failed me, when I was quite young. That was through inexperience, I think.

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  4. Oh my, you certainly are a storyteller, of which you expressed some doubts a while ago. What tension! I’m glad all ended well. Wasn’t it once a film called Moth with a VERY scary protagonist? Well, I always imagine your husband scary now, even though I’m sure he is nothing like it. πŸ˜€

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    • No, Manja – he is definitely not scary. So the MoTH is not a good name for him. Moths on the whole sounds a bit scary – especially the large ones, so an apt name for a horror movie! Lol. Thanks you for your sweet comment. I would love to be a storyteller but sometimes feel like it is just waffle with one good sentence or two…..

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