Like Candy from a Stranger

Most of us have seen the public service commercials about it and have learned about it from our parents and at school. DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS. And especially when we are young, we are told not to go with strangers and never take candy or other presents from them. They just want to lure poor, unsuspecting children away for often horrible reasons. We don’t worry about those scenarios much when we grow older. It would be a rare occurrence for someone to try such a trick on an older child and certainly not an adult. However, here in Ghana I have often recalled those lessons from childhood.

The scene is like this: I am walking down a street or waiting on the side of the road for a tro-tro to come along. A man—sometimes young, other times old—slows down in his car and tries to get my attention. He then tries to say a few lines he thinks will make me think he is trustworthy. An example would be a middle-aged man driving up to me and saying he is a minister and wants to give me a ride to the junction since it looks as though there are not any tro-tros coming my way at this time. Instead of candy, also, sometimes I get promises that they are going to go eat and I should join them. I used to talk to the men to get them to understand I do not want to go with them, but now I have taken to ignoring them and walking faster or turning away. It may seem rude, but I know that 97% of them have nothing positive in mind.

My commitment to this stance led to a comical event last Friday. I was walking towards the roundabout to catch a tro-tro to the Accra Mall and I was walking fast, as I am even more bothered by the men on the road when I am in dressier clothes, when it happened. As I was walking I heard a male voice say ‘Hello, young lady.’ I quickened my steps. But then I heard the voice say, ‘Hello, Delia.’ I immediately recognized the way the voice said my name. It was George. I stopped, turned around, and as soon as our eyes met we started laughing and hugging. George knew exactly what kind of guy I thought he was and we both thought it was very amusing to meet on the road like this. I guess I have to watch out for the 3% good ones sometimes too.

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