It happened this week and as I’m guessing is usually the case, was totally unplanned. I’m the lady who holds her keys in her fist with the strongest one sticking out, ready to be used as a weapon should someone jump out from behind a bush ready to mug or attack me on the way to my parked car. Ever since my friend was attacked by a cab driver, over ten years ago and was able to get free thanks to her keys mine are always, subconsciously, ready to save me too. I take my persona security quite seriously and having watched one too many episode of Crime Watch, am always expecting the worst to happen when I’m out alone.
This night was no different, keys in hand and torch light guiding me to my parked car, I strode with purpose from the train, across the near empty car park and entered the car, being sure to lock it straight away, then drove off. I remember thanking my lucky stars that I had a car because the walk from the station to the village at this time of night would be so scary, with no street lights and more fields than houses to lighten up your walk.
Then I saw it.
A thumb held out towards the road, that universally accepted sign of those in need of a lift. In what could have been no more than a couple of seconds thought, I rounded the corner and parked up, hitting the hazard lights and waited for the owner of the thumb.
He ran up to the car and I unlocked the passenger door and welcomed him in. He looked at me cautiously and I smiled, letting him know I had indeed meant to stop for him. I told him I was driving to the village and he explained that he lived there too and had been walking home at this late hour every night after work for the past few months since his car broke down. Not many people stopped. He was thankful that I had.
Talk flowed easily and hopefully masked my embarrassment at the state of my car, which hadn’t seen a hoover let alone a valet since the spring. I rolled down the window in spite of it being frosty outside so the smell of rotting fruit, lodged somewhere underneath one of the chairs, didn’t overpower my unexpected passenger. The smell had been driving me crazy for over a week but for the life of me, I just couldn’t find the blasted thing. A bag of tangerines had fallen and I’d thought they’d all been returned to the grocery bag in which they belonged but the pong emanating from my car said otherwise.
We learnt quite a bit about each other during the five minutes or so that it took to get back into our village. It was like a mini Linked In and Facebook profile speed session. Possibly it was the easiest way to assure ourselves that we were both kind humans, not likely to harm each other, but more likely, we were both just the kind of people who had faith in others anyway. The kind of people who were trusting enough in human kindness to hitch a lift without fear of something untoward happening and the kind of people who were comfortable enough to spare a person walking 45 minutes in the pitch dark near the witching hour. I didn’t think I was one of those people until that night. It was lovely to learn something new.
Would I have offered the man a lift had I been on a motorway or somewhere further afield? I’m not sure. The familiarity of being so close to a village that I’ve become comfortable in and call my home may have let me feel safe enough to take a hitch hiker. I’ll let you know if the occasion comes up, what it is I do.
I went home with a sense of accomplishment from having done a good deed and having met yet another charming member of the small community I now reside in. It feels good to help and I’m possibly more thankful to my first hitch hiker for giving me the glow than he is of me for giving him the lift.