As a college student, my backpack is an extension of myself in many ways. It contains my notes, pens, and computer vital for my success in college. It contains the snacks and water bottle I need to survive long days on campus. It also contains the "in-case" items that help put my mind at rest if I forgot something from home: extra hair ties, masks, and that backup-backup snack. With so much in my backpack important to me and my life on campus, it is no wonder that I can get apprehensive about it when it is not with me or in my line of sight. And that makes me wonder.
I can be a little cynical of society. It is not so much that I distrust anyone in particular, but I realize that a lot of trouble and hassle can come from one person who just doesn't care about others. It is not that I think that everyone is going to steal my backpack or its contents, but one person sure could. I did not think about it too much until I found myself leaving my things in the university library while going to the restroom last week. I hurried along so that I could get back to my things, but in the process, I realized that perhaps I was not as distrustful as I thought I was.
Admittedly, one of the reasons I left my things and backpack at a table while using the restroom instead of taking it all with me was laziness. I did not want to have to put everything in my backpack, lug it all to the restroom, only to have to set everything back up a few minutes later. Yet, I found another reason to leave my things behind: the stranger across the table from me. I never said a word to the man. I don't even think we made eye contact. However, I had been sitting across him for over an hour, so in some strange way, I trusted him. When I got back and everything was just as I left it, I mentally approved of the man who had "watched" my things. Again, I never said anything to him.
I realized later that this strange relationship was reciprocal. When the man left his things on the table later that afternoon to leave the room, I mentally charged myself with the duty to make sure his things were safe. It was almost as if I was saying, "Don't worry, sir. You watched my stuff; I will watch your stuff." Obviously, I have no idea what the man thought of the situation, but I found myself bound to a relationship of trust that was built on almost nothing but the fact that we had been in each other's presence for long enough.
The whole thing puzzles me. Even the thought of "long enough" puzzles me. Would I have trusted the stranger if I had only sat at the same table as him for half an hour? Would I be more inclined to leave my backpack for longer if we had sat in each other's presence for longer? I don't know. Maybe one day a psychologist or sociologist will answer my questions. In the meantime, I am bewildered by the general distrust I have of society, and yet the unusual trust I have of a stranger.