There are only two types of strangers : those walking past us, and those that have walked along on our memory lane. Humans, we are social creatures, always looking to expand our social circle, because apparently, the more friends you have, the better you are. This radius just increases and increases with age till it reach a certain point, when you form more circles, but with you remaining the centre. Sometimes different circles intersect, and the centre is not the centre, but a shifting focus that we are, not fitting but perfectly isolate, yet appreciated within its own circle of life.
Circles are perfect shapes, with a radius that is a length that remains equal from the centre to the circumference at any length along/in the circle. If we are that centre, and our friends part of this circle, the closer we are the smaller the radius, and the smaller the area. Yet because there are a significant number of people in a smaller area, information here is pretty dense, and here is where the most important things are divulged. The closest ones we keep at arms length, and there are those that are of a neglible distance from you, from your heart to that person. And then we have the bigger circles, each tier overlapping with the other, hoping to create an effect whereby we do nothing but acquite more spectator friends, who do nothing but exist in your life as “hi-bye” friends.
The thing about strangers is that, we when a stranger helps you, you feel either very touched / moved by their actions, or digusted.
Why would a person that doesn’t know you, help you ? This person is an altruist, kind and warm-hearted by nature, and helps everyone who needs help, and s/he helps to the best of their abilities, thinking nothing of getting somethign in return for having helped you. Then you could say that this is idealistic, as there exist people who see the pragmatism in the future, perhaps, who knows you might be a foreign businessman, and by helping you and making you remember that this stranger had once helped you, might boost his chances of getting something out of it. But this is just a risk that this person takes.
Many who have been to Hong Kong relate to be of a similar environment, that everyone there are friends with each other. If you think about it, how can such a highly-stressed, and fast-paced society have the time to make friends, much less with each other ? Some explain to me the 搭台 phenomenon, where people share tables to dine – it wouldn’t be a surprise that at a table with 4 seats, there are 4 individuals who don’t know each other, yet they can engage in small talk, in this lively and warm environment. Some would tell me it’s because they need to grab the opportunity to establish more connections, to increase their social network, for it could benefit them one day. But of course, we cannot rule out the fact that many of these Hong Kees are simply trying to make an awkward meal feel better, rather than strange individuals staring at each other just eating.
This is the significance of friendship, that it is first established based on possible benefits and advantages.
Some people would be disgusted for having a stranger help you out. Some feel like such strangers are looking down on them, for lending a helping hand because they feel that they are useless, weak, incompetent. The type of person that is like that is usually the type that feels inferior to people, and desperately tries to prove that s/he is very capable, and needed by all. Any sign of weakness, of someone else helping is evident that s/he doesn’t know something, which would greatly affect his/her reputation, resulting in an immediate destruction of that reputation that s/he built over years.
Then there are those that remain in our memory, like the few friends that you had, you all were maybe the best of friends during a certain period of time, but something happened, and well you know this friend just became this non-existent thing, and faded away as just a memory, never to be talked about ever again. And everyone knows about such people, so they don’t purposely probe about the past, ‘cos they know that yes sometimes old wounds don’t need to be reopened. There are those that don’t really enter your memory but just because they happened to walk past this path of yours that you somehow know them, but to you they were just strangers that took a stroll through your life, just minding their own business. But there are those that scale through your gardens and tread through your carefully grown flowers, cutting off the lovely plots of fruit trees that you’ve cultivated, just so they could benefit from these flowers, from the fruits that you spent years growing.
Sometimes maybe we were perfect strangers. And sometimes it’s better staying as that.