What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
This is a tough one for me, as there are PLENTY of dumb and stupid things that I have done over the past 42 years, but one in particular popped into my head. During my junior year at college, I lived in London with two friends, while attending university there for a semester. It was finals/exams week and I had a LARGE project due and had done NOTHING prepared for this presentation. I was required to write and then present a ten minute lecture on a social issue in the British government. It was about ten at night, and there was a knock on the door of our flat. (We lived in an unusual situation in that our flat was above an antique store, and OUR door was actually the front door of the store, and the owners had fabricated a fence that they pulled across the store entrance that stopped us from having access to the shop when it was closed, and limited us to only the stairs leading up to our flat. So a visitor was UNUSUAL, a visitor at 10:00p.m., UNHEARD of. I ran down to answer it, and there standing on the mat was a grungy, smelly man (probably only a few years older than we were.) He explained that he was working for an organization that tried to HELP people that were homeless, get off the streets and back on their feet by giving them a job. That job was to sell RANDOM household items (tea bags, dishtowels and scrub brushes are a few I remember.)
Even IF this organization was legitimate AND the young gentleman was truly trying to make his life better, allowing such a person into our flat, with two young American girls at 10:00 p.m. was not a recommended course of action. Particularly since I had noticed the tattoos on the knuckles of both hands: H-A-T-E on the left, and on the right hand: K-I-L-L. Not a ringing endorsement for this man’s character. BUT at that exact moment in my life, I was desperate….for a SOCIAL ISSUE (remember exams, and there was no such thing as the internet back then.) I DID let this guy in and struck up a deal with him. I would buy a bunch of useless kitchen items from him to get him points (which would earn him money) in exchange for HIS story….how he had come to be homeless, where he came from and how he felt the British government “handled” the issue of vagrancy.
NOT A BRILLIANT IDEA….I know.
BUT the end result: I got an A+ on the project; Danny (his name I learned later in the evening) even CAME into my class (sort of a show and tell?) He not only shared his story, he ended up crashing on our couch for a few nights. He was truly a NICE guy, with a shitty ass story and was just down on his luck.
Did I know that when I choose to open the door? NOPE. Did it cross my mind, then and a number of times later that it was just a downright STUPID move. YUP! BUT I do hold on to the fact that something good did come from that dumb decision. I actually saw Danny a few more times before our term ended and we headed back to America. He was still living on the streets; no idea what happened to him. But I learned that homeless definitely does not immediately equal bad, and that is a lesson that has stuck with me into my grown-up life.