I wrote a few weeks ago about the 'request scruple' and people's willingness or unwillingness to ask for help. Now here's Amanda's engrossing tale of neighbouring from Boston, Mass. 'I need you to help me pick up my motha,' gasps the passer-by. I can easily see this one getting taken up by the neat but cringingly-yclept good gym.
For me it brought back memories of being in Boston for the marathon and for some seminars about neighbourhood relations at MIT, in 2003.
It also made me think about occasions when I've been approached for help by people on the fringes of my neighbourhood or theirs. Usually they're wholly trusting encounters, for example when as I was passing I was asked to go into a house not far away but outside my immediate neighbouhood, to help shut a window - the owner was away and their keyholding neighbour was anxious about security. I didn't know her but maybe she recognised me as a local, as a regular pedestrian hereabouts for many years.
One encounter not long ago rather nonplussed me, when I was asked when passing a bus-stop - the guy suddenly up so close I felt his breath on my face - for a pound. I asked what for, he said so he could buy a book in the charity shop.