As I stared off into the distance, the bus made no efforts to disengage from its predetermined path. It continued to incrementally separate itself from me, simultaneously sabotaging both my sense of security and any plans I had of seeing my friend this weekend. The situation was slipping outside of my control and Wausau was slipping outside of my grasp.
These were desperate times, but I could not afford to look desperate. No one would help a hysterical hitchhiker. The situation demanded a calm, cool, and collected state of mind. The rules of supply and demand dictated that I should have an ample reserve. I could not lose in this market. Too much was at stake.
Fortunately the transfer point was located at the local restaurant in town. Instead of sinking my teeth into sub-par sustenance, I should have been devoting my time to figuring out a way to ensure I wouldn’t spend my entire weekend at Olympia Family Restaurant. I tried to vocalize my predicament to the restaurant staff, but without a purchase I would be outside of their concern and then promptly escorted outside of their establishment. Left with no other viable options, I sat down in moderate defeat to decide on my main course for dinner alongside a more pressing new course of action.
While I sat in solitude at my own little corner of Olympia, a concerned family overheard my pleas for help and offered a simple solution to what had become a complex problem. They would drive me to Wausau. I had found Southern Hospitality in the Upper Midwest. From that point forward good food and conversation were abundant, as our shared stories and exchanged laughter wafted though the air of the small town restaurant. The evening continued to drastically transform from dismal to blissful as my unfamiliar associates substantiated their magnanimous demeanor with monetary value. I was told before that there was no such thing as a free lunch. But a free dinner was never out of the question. In fact, it was right in front of me. And with my wallet still full and my stomach even fuller, we left the diner behind as we set our sights on the final destination.
The hitchhiking had commenced, complete with continued conversation from my benefactors. During the ride, they explained why they felt so compelled to help me. One night during a winter snowstorm their daughter had broke down on the side of the road. The conditions were too harsh for her to stay inside her car, but the tow truck driver took it upon himself to take care of this random stranger. They had to pay this kindness forward. They told me it was the only way humans could make it through life. I had a “no-good-deed-goes-unreciprocated” policy and the good fortune I had been blessed with was no exception to the rule. One day I would pay it forward. But for now, I would enjoy all the perks of being on the receiving end of random acts of kindness.
If this was the standard package for a person engaging in the art of hitchhiking, then I could endure a day of being pampered and protected from the hardships of the traveler’s life in exchange for the student price and the routine recreations of the local charter bus. Although it was an untimely and inefficient mode of transport, it was the far more spontaneous and exhilarating option. It was something to remember. And if I wanted this memory to last, then I had to savor it while I still could.
In short, hitchhiking had accomplished my mission. Their kindness extended not only to the inside of their vehicle but to the inner lining of their wallets. They left me in Wausau, WI – directly in front of my friend’s house. I left with words of wisdom and a Karmic pledge to pay it forward in the future.
With the help of these strangers, I had successfully hitchhiked to the promised land. And nothing else mattered.