Social Question

Jeruba's avatar

Are you comfortable asking a stranger for help?

Asked by Jeruba (49671points) 3 weeks ago

I don’t mean panhandling. More like asking a tall person to reach an item on a high shelf at the supermarket, or asking someone in line to hold your place for you while you run a brief errand.

What are factors in your comfort or discomfort?

Has the covid-19 pandemic affected your willingness to ask for these small favors?

Do you do them for others?

Has anyone ever turned you down?

Tags as I wrote them: assistance, help, social cues, mutual aid, favors, strangers, covid-19.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

18 Answers

janbb's avatar

I am comfortable with it in general. Not in terms of asking for big favors but certainly things like the examples you mentioned. And I am happy to help others and will sometimes perceive a need before being asked. But in the time of COVID, I am less interactive and certainly loath to do anything that would bring me in close contact with a stranger unless they were in dire need.

zenvelo's avatar

My response is similar to @janbb.‘s Just thi spast Wednesday, a woman ahead of me in line to go into the grocery store asked if I would hold her place in line while she got something from her car. I was glad to tell her, “of course”.

ragingloli's avatar

Honestly, I am so antisocial, I would probably bleed to death on the street before I ask anyone for help.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I usually try not to. Sometimes people volunteer and cause more problems.

KNOWITALL's avatar

No, not really. Although I have helped other people.
Like @ragingloli it’s just not something I do, asking for help.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I am ok asking for help when I forget my eye glasses.

ucme's avatar

I don’t need the help of strangers.
We have staff for that!

canidmajor's avatar

I am very short, I have always relied on the kindness (and tallness) of strangers, and if someone asks me, I am usually happy to help unless it’s weird.

I haven’t been out enough during the pandemic to have needed or rendered help.

longgone's avatar


I rarely need help outside of emergencies (where I’ve usually been lucky enough to have people offer their help before I could approach them). I did once ask a family to keep an eye on my dog while I dashed to the bathroom, and certainly wasn’t comfortable with that.

What are factors in your comfort or discomfort?

I generally feel like strangers will be nice to me. However, that moment of saying “excuse me” does feel awkward. I was really shy as a kid, and people often couldn’t hear me because I was speaking too softly. That hasn’t happened since I was a teenager, but I do still retain the discomfort when first approaching strangers. In the dog example, I was also uncomfortable about leaving my dog with people I don’t know. I only did it because they were interested in him, but in a quiet way that seemed very safe.

Has the covid-19 pandemic affected your willingness to ask for these small favors?

Yes. I smile, but try to stay away from strangers. I think if I needed help, I would try to first think of a way to receive it without endangering myself or the other person.

Do you do them for others?


Has anyone ever turned you down?

I really don’t think so.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

It’s doesn’t bother me at all to ask for help. However, I’m tall, so I’m usually the one being asked, and I like to help. The only change due to current circumstances is because I’m going out less.

canidmajor's avatar

Come shopping with me, @Hawaii_Jake, you can reach high things for me and I’ll treat you to a nice lunch after! :-)

cookieman's avatar

I’m not even comfortable asking my family for help, so ‘no’.

Ironically, I help people all the time.

Jonsblond's avatar

I’ve never had a problem asking anyone for help. I also help anyone who asks for help if I’m capable.

seawulf575's avatar

If I need to. I once ran out of gas and hitchhiked in the middle of the night to get about 5 miles up the road to get a can of gas. Got the can and hitchhiked back. Got rides almost right away going both directions. That confirmed for me that there is good in people and most people are worth helping. So yeah, I would (and have) asked for help. I’ve also been asked for help, especially in the grocery stored by shorter older people who want something off the top shelf.

Strauss's avatar

I have often depended on the kindnesses of strangers. I did a lot of hitchhiking as a young man, and also did some busking in various cities in the US. In both situations by definition I was asking strangers for help.

I also have no problem offering help to someone in need. It’s not that I empty my pockets for every panhandler in my path, but I have been known to go out of my way to help strangers.

Brian1946's avatar


What instrument and what tunes did you play, when you were busking?

Strauss's avatar

When I was busking solo, I played 12-string guitar to accompany myself singing. My repertoire was pretty diverse, e.g., Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffett, John Prine, Bob Seeger, Charlie Daniels, etc. I also played in a trio consisting of myself on accordion, a fiddler and a guitarist, with three-part harmonies. We mostly played Cajun, zydeco and Blues.

dabbler's avatar

I’m a guy who asks for directions without hesitation.

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