How Brisbane is Teaching Me to Trust Again
At a dinner party on one of my first evenings here in Brisbane, Australia, my phone died. Normally, this is not a big deal; not having a phone can be inconvenient at worst. I am still very new to this city, though, and I never know where I am or how to get back home with the confusing city bus system. In order to get home, I desperately needed my reliable phone to guide my helpless self after a long night out. I had been looking for a USB plug in order to charge my phone since I arrived, but had not been able to find one. My last ditch effort was to try out the corner store next to the restaurant.
Though the friendly guy running the store did not sell plugs, he offered to charge my phone in the back while I dined. I hesitated at his offer, wondering if he was going to run off with my phone to some underground shop and sell my precious lifeline to the rest of the world; I have been robbed abroad before. But the guy was friendly enough, so I gave him my phone and went back to dinner for a few hours.
I did not think that any city could lead me to trust people’s intentions. Aren’t cities supposed to be where everyone keep to themselves and shy away from strangers?
As I left the store, I thought about what a stupid move I had just made. In NYC, or most places I’ve visited, I knew I would never see my phone again. I considered all of the bank accounts I’d have to lock and email accounts I would have to reset to save me from losing my identity. Why did I just trust that stranger with something so valuable to me?
Living in big cities and travelling has hardened me to a degree, I realize. I have the jaded perception that everyone is out solely for their own success and will cut down anyone to get there. I own as little as possible so that I can keep it all close to me while I survive independent of anyone else’s help. I would never put down my purse on the ground; I always bring my journal with me, even if I’m going to the bathroom next to my seat in the library; hell, I even will carry around my transit card with me out of town in case my roommates go into my drawers.
Since I have moved here to Australia, all expats I have met have commented on how trustworthy Aussies are. One friend even joked that Australia can give someone a false sense of security because it is so safe. Australians seem to genuinely care about – and want to help – each other, even if they’ve only known someone for a few minutes. I’d had strangers offer to drive me home and invite me to dinner parties within minutes of meeting.
I am not used to any of this, and at first I kept wondering when someone was going to swindle me in broad daylight. But now I can start feeling myself begin to trust people more, and I am taking people up on their offers to help with less suspicion. I did not think that any city could lead me to trust people’s intentions. Aren’t cities supposed to be where everyone keep to themselves and shy away from strangers?
Brisbane is showing me that there is a way to live in a city and trust in the kindness of strangers.
I have found that, at least in Brisbane, that is not the case at all. People seem to simply and genuinely want to help. Brisbane is showing me that there is a way to live in a city and trust in the kindness of strangers. I have begun to consider that maybe people can work with each other towards a brighter, more freeing lifestyle based on community well-being. Here, maybe it’s the community that succeeds, not the individual.
A few hours after I dropped off my phone to the guy in the store, I came back to see if my trust had been in vain. Some new guy was running the shop, and I could feel my insides clench a little bit when I asked for my phone. The new guy smiled and nodded, disappearing into the back room. Soon after, he came out with my beloved phone, handing it back to me as if it was the Holy Grail. I gratefully bought a candy bar in exchange for the kindness and support the store gave me that night.
Photo credit for How Brisbane is Teaching Me to Trust Again by Kimberly Worsham and Unsplash.