So I was standing in the middle of an Australian street, sweating in the 35 degree heat, with a map in my hand and a puzzled look on my face, when a lady – a total stranger – bothered to turn her car around in busy traffic, pull over beside me and ask where I was looking for.
Being a newbie to the country, I had no phone, no internet, and absolutely no sense of direction (though the last bit isn’t technically the fault of the whole new country thing.)
So, the lady – Cindy, FYI – googled the address on her phone for me. She even called the location to check the address details. And THEN she offered to drive me there.
No sooner had I hopped in, we’d arrived at my destination and she was wishing me ‘a great day!’ before smiling, pulling away, and continuing with the rest of her life.
My first thought: I hope she doesn’t notice that I sweated all over her seat.
My second thought: That would never happen in England!
But then, what if it would?
See, while I was praising the kindness of Australians (obviously this one kind act was a reflection of the entire population) and cursing my hometown for its apparent rudeness and ignorance, it got me to thinking that actually:
I’ve never let myself get lost enough to find out.
Back home, in my little town, in my little bubble, everything is in the same place it’s been for all of the other 25 years I’ve been there. My car would get me from A to B and sometimes C and then back to A again. And I’d never get to speak to strangers (mainly because that was the NUMBER ONE rule of life according to everything we were ever taught from ages 1-18), but also because everyone was so familiar, and I didn’t need to.
(OK, so there was this one time where I picked up a hitch hiker called Len because I was having a ‘why not’ moment. And, although Len was a very nice chap, with funny ‘on the road’ stories that he seemed delighted to share, it was such a spontaneous trip in such close proximity to a stranger that it turned out feeling more weird than exciting. And my friends and family have since informed me that it’s just not the done thing.)
BUT, how about, without necessarily having to let any strangers into any cars, we just start popping our little bubbles from time to time.
Why don’t we get a little bit lost, so we can discover the kind people or pretty places or quirky things we mightn’t have known otherwise…all the way back.
And who knows, you might even get to meet Len!