Good citizen dilemma

posted in: citizen | 3

This morning, as I was leaving home on my bike, I met an agitated courier delivery driver carrying a large parcel. It was for a neighbour who lives 4 doors away, and the driver asked if i would take it for them. I said that I didn’t know them, and the driver interpreted this as a ‘no’ and wandered off further down the road on his forlorn quest. I didn’t call him back, but the encounter left me feeling troubled.

Why would I not take the parcel? Well, as I said, I don’t know the people it was for. I know my neighbours 2 doors either side, and a few other families further along the road, but not the people at this house.

Who knows what is in the parcel? Is it something I want in my house?

It would have been a bit of trouble as I’d just locked my front door and put on the alarm. I won’t be back until this evening and might not feel like going round to a stranger’s house with a large parcel.

Also I’m uneasy about the opportunistic delivery firms undercutting Royal Mail wanting to use me as the final stage in the delivery process. Royal Mail would have left a card, and their depot is only about 400 metres from our road. So with Royal Mail our neighbours could have collected their parcel with little effort. I suspect the courier firm’s depot is many miles drive away.

Are any of these good enough reasons for me to decline the opportunity to be a good citizen? What do you think?

3 Responses

  1. John Russell (Twitter@JohnRussell40)

    I think I’d have instinctively said ‘yes’. But then I live in deepest rural Devon, where people are further apart and I’d have seen it as an opportunity to make contact with a neighbour I didn’t know. Some of the people I call my neighbours actually live several miles away! In the countryside people are very important to one another, so we’re always doing each other favours — one never knows when you might really need someone.

    Having said all that, I’d have probably have thought about my unqualified ‘yes’ afterwards — just as you did about your ‘no’. But then I tend to always assume the best of people in the countryside (perhaps the reverse would be true in a city?).

    I like to think of myself as a good friend — and a bad enemy. But if we became enemies it would have been in spite of my best efforts to patch up any misunderstanding.



    • cwhope

      Yes, it may well be a city/country thing.

      But you’re also right that it could have been a chance to make a new contact with a neighbour; I didn’t really consider that.

  2. johope

    definitely city country thing. Remember small village Metung and it’s not just an Aussie thing . People in Australian cities are the same as in any others.

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