In America you should know whom you smile to

I promised to write this post long time ago in my previous post:

Do you know how to treat a Muslim to Pizza?

I grow up in Kuwait, a place where the average temperature during the summer is 120 F (48 C). In the emergency hospital rooms you see cases that you don’t see in other colder countries such as children suffering skin burns because of contact with metal objects exposed to the sun and daily huge number of collapsed construction workers working under the burning sun. Because of such burning sun my father used to give rides to strangers on the street.

I learned this act of kindness from him and got used to giving rides to people I don’t know in Jordan and students I don’t know on my motorbike in Malaysia. In my first year in America I tried to give a free ride as well but later found it could have been my biggest mistake ever.

Within two months of getting my American driving license I was driving back home from school under a heavy rain storm. Being from the desert land I had never seen anything like that rain. The rain was so sever I could hardly see the car in front of me. When I stopped at a stop sign I noticed two kids completely soaked. They looked like a sister and her brother. The sister was about 13-year-old and her brother was about 8 or 9. I opened the passenger’s window and told them to get in the car to give them a ride. The little girl said “No, thank you.” Seeing that they don’t have an umbrella and how bad the weather was I offered my help again and told them I will give them a ride to wherever they were going to but the girl refused again. I think I repeated my offer three times but every time the girl refuses. At that time it made no sense to me that they refused riding a car safely to their home. It turned out different cultures think different. Believe it or not but I interpreted their refusal to get in my car that they didn’t want to wet my car seats since they were soaked. Truly, this is what I thought. Yes, I was that naive back then

Years later, I found out how lucky I was that this smart girl refused to ride with a stranger. Of course when you live in America you learn that what I did was the stupidest thing ever. I can’t even imagine how stupid that move was.

In the U.S., I learned that a man should stay away from strange kids and teenagers under 16 or 18, as much as possible. Unfortunately, in the U.S. there are many sex predators, or sex offenders, who kidnap children. I believe it is one of the worst things here in the U.S. The police and other organizations provide a public service for people to check if your neighborhood has any sex predators. It is that big of a problem. Because no landlord let sex offenders rent a house or an apartment, sex offenders live together in one house provided by, I think, the government. The problem is so big some malls in America ban teenagers from entering the malls without being accompanied by an adult.

One of the many attitudes I like about Americans is that they smile to strangers including guys who look from the Middle East like me. But in the US you should know whom you smile to. The first time I went to Walmart to buy stuff for my new apartment I was happy to see the cute American children. They are very cute you just want to play with them. When my friend saw me smiling to a kid he told me to never do that again. Later, I understood why and I think unfortunately it is true that there are many bad men in the U.S. who kidnap children for their sexual weirdness sickness.

Because this is a big deal parents became very protective of their children. The number one rule parents teach their children here is to NEVER SPEAK WITH STRANGERS.

Like me when I came to the US, Arab families who are new in the US don’t know how dangers it is to leave their children play in the park without being watched by an adult. I have seen it many times. We go out to the park and I see the parents without their kids when I ask them where their kids are they tell me they are playing somewhere.


13 thoughts on “In America you should know whom you smile to

  1. Aw, this post was so sweet! I guess since I know what a great guy you are, I felt sad that the children didn’t understand your kindness in offering them a ride. And, yeah, it’s really sad that mean people have ruined things so that we must be wary of strangers. I wish things were different.Thanks for sharing these stories. I was smiling through a lot of it. Not because you did something culturally “wrong” but because you are so kind to people. It’s bad when kindness gets you in trouble though. 😦

    1. Now, that I am thinking about it I am very happy the kids didn’t accept my offer. I would imagine their mother’s reaction seeing them with a stranger in his car. I would not like my kids be with a stranger. What was I thinking? 🙂
      Glad you like my awkward adventures in America 🙂 I am trying to save the new Arab comers the embarrassment while adapting to the new culture.

  2. Any act of kindness exposes you to the possibility of being sued and there is the possibility as well of being set up by the person you are being kind to since you can be accused of rape or trying to molest children as a way to extort money from you. No good deed goes unpunished.

    1. “No good deed goes unpunished.”
      Joe, I think it is time you get rid of your black hat.
      I understand that there is a chance of what you said to happen but these are extreme cases.

      1. No good deed goes unpunished is a common saying in the United States. I regret that I am not the one who came up with it.

  3. This was a nice one jaraad 🙂
    The differences in cultural “cues” are enormously …enormous!

    * Kindly if u have the time; can u edit how yr blog title shows in the email notifications 🙂
    [it reads “wordpress” .. still]

    1. Thanks, Haitham.
      I tried to solve the problem since you told me about it before but didn’t know how. Could you please forward me the email you receive from my blog. It might help me figure out what causes the problem. Thanks!

    1. Hi Pinksourgrapes, It has been quite sometime since your last comment 🙂
      I can imagine the fear I caused these two kids. Lesson learned! Who wants to ride with Zombie 🙂

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