I could have avoided eye contact with the er…brightly dressed, broad smiling, curly headed young (er than me) man who bounced in front of me at the motorway service station on the M6 on Thursday.
I could have body swerved him, in a way that wouldn’t have been out of place at the Olympic rugby sevens, like my fellow motorway dwellers…
I could have told him a lengthy story about, although we were only going to be in Edinburgh for one night, we were carrying every item of clothing we’d ever owned – just in case, so there was no room at the inn…er, in the inn…the car…
However, I quickly remembered how hitching had been my primary mode of transport in my early 20’s and that I owed the world a little something…
I told the guy, Dennis, and his fellow traveller, Rosie, that I’d have to check with the lovely Ella who was wandering about the place, but as far as I was concerned, we’d be taking them as far as Gretna – they were travelling to a place near Dumfries.
I caught up with Ella, and, as you can imagine, she looked at me as if I was insane…
‘Of course!’ she happily declared in a, ‘Did you really have to ask?’ kind of way?
We bundled them in with ‘welcomes’ and ‘thank you’s’ in equal measure.
A captive audience in a car full of performers!
How happy was I?
Dennis and Rosie were coming back to Scotland after travelling around Europe – the conversation started safely, gently….perhaps we were going to judge them?
They’d been to Greece, Serbia and, finally, Calais…
Why would these 2 fine folk take themselves from Scotland to Europe for almost a month?
To do their bit to support the thousands of people who are on the move, who’ve had their lives horribly disrupted by the fucking mess in Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Lybia, Iraq….
I didn’t even think to ask why. I can guess – you can probably guess – but their specific motivations will remain a bit of a mystery.
They did what they could – they stayed in these transient, temporary camps – doing everything from serving food, building shelters, showing care and compassion, to sorting socks.
They talked about difficult conditions – about ‘The Jungle’ in Calais – about how it has a high street – water – and shops – and about it’s imminent destruction.
We told them about walk a mile – they called us ‘inspirational’
Inspirational?! After all they’d been up to – it was all rather lovely.
What a great experience! What open, delightful, enthusiastic folk.
The hundred and fifty miles with them zipped by.
All to soon, we were standing on the side of the road, dragging their rucksacks out, and hugging them like long lost friends, wishing them well for the rest of their journey.
The rest of our Edinburgh road trip flew by as we babbled about what a great experience this simple act of saying, ‘Sure, we’ll give you a lift,’ had given us.
Walk a Mile