The kindness of a stranger


The kindness of a stranger

My blogposts seemed to have followed a bit of an embarrassing theme recently. My British humour allowing me to see the funny side, as I stumble rather than wander through life. This post is not as funny as some of my other stories but I feel compelled to share this example of human kindness in my hour of need.

After  running a beautiful Escape artist retreat, I was driving home, tired but happy. It was raining and there were many roadworks on the way. The little camper van crawled along with the window wipers slowly squeaking their way across the misty window. As I approached Katikati the speedometer stopped working “Mmmm….” I thought nervously as I know very little about vehicles. I stopped to get some vegetables, hoping it would set itself right…

But it didn’t. I called the AA and waited. By now it was pouring down and little Frida (my dog) was looking puzzled at our long stop outside the vegetable shop. I waited and waited. I wasn’t exactly a damsel in distress but I was feeling annoyed as the time ticked by. Eventually after an hour and a half, sure enough a really friendly helpful AA man came to my assistance but after charging the battery he realised it wasn’t that simple and it was probably the alternator. “Will I be able to get home to Rotorua?” I asked feeling panic begin to rise. “No” he said.”What will I do?” I asked. “We could try Allan? at batterymart” he said.

Allan the owner of the garage slowly came out with a smile and looked at the battery.”How’s your day?” I asked, feeling the rain cold on the back of my neck. “Better than yours I’d say.” he smiled again.

Suddenly I started to feel better. My day wasn’t bad. I’d walked on the beach that morning reflecting on the great weekend. This was just an inconvenience an unexpected end to my day.

“What’s the verdict? Can you fix it?” I asked  “Well… Eventually I can but I don’t have the parts, you may have to wait for days.” My face must have dropped as he quickly added.”I always say there’s no place like home. So how about I charge your battery overnight and that’ll get you home tomorrow?”

I immediately imagine tapping red shoes together and think of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz but alas my shoes were not magic, just wet and dirty. My brain tried to keep up. Where was I going to sleep? “I have my dog” I say. “She will be ok with you in the van. You can sleep here. It might be a bit noisey by the road but you’ll be ok.” He said.

I was so grateful to him for letting me stay but I don’t have a toilet in the van and as usual I thought out loud. “Do you think the backpackers will let me use their toilet?” He nodded “probably.”

I started to resign myself to a night in Katikati . I had plenty of leftover food from the retreat and a comfortable bed, my trusty little Frida and a good book. I’d always wanted to explore this place and look at the murals. Instead of feeling anxious I started to feel excited as a little adventure emerged. Allan chatted to me about working at the garage for 43yrs and I tell him my Dads name was Alan with one L. He finished up and I put Frida on the lead to go on a walk. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said. “Hang on..” he called out as he hurried towards me handing me his bunch of keys. “There you go, use the toilet and help yourself to a coffee”. I couldn’t believe his kindness. He didn’t even know me and he just let me have the keys to his garage.

The night was long and I barely slept but with lots of messages from Glenn, who would have come over if I’d let him. I felt reassured and ok. I enjoyed walking around Katikati and seeing the murals and the sculpture trail. Making a coffee in my tin mug I watched all the comings and goings in the car yard. 

Allan arrived and told me I could go.”You be on your way now sweetie, remember there’s no place like home” He wouldn’t even let me pay him anything.

Driving home I thought. Only when we step off the normal track does the adventure begin. I think of Allans kindness and wonder how to thank him. Life gets busy. We often focus on negative events and worries. Breaking down and spending a night in the rain without being able to lock the door as the battery charged would have normally freaked me out. Somehow Allans kindness made me feel safe.

 Leaving  home the week before to do the retreat I’d been full of gratitude to Glenn for the support and space he gives me to do my work. Only by having these safe foundations in place, do I feel able to venture out into the world.Be open to new experiences and fun.

On the retreat I had been telling the ladies of the classic story structure of the Hero’s journey, from Joseph Campbell’s book. I believe in always coming full circle. It’s no coincidence that “The Wizard of Oz” was my favourite childhood movie. Or that I have struggled to find “home” at many times in my life. Home is where my heart is. The security I’ve always yearned for has always been inside me and yes I do own a lovely pair or red shoes. (And yes the illustration of them is for sale!).

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