28 Nov

Before coming to Australia I didn’t truly understand the compassion of strangers.  I had read the random acts of kindness section in Chicken Soup for the Soul and I understood the whole concept of paying it forward but I don’t think I had entirely been introduced to and experienced the absolutely genuine care that one stranger can have for another.  From the moment our plane landed in Australia, Charlotte and I have been repeatedly stunned by the selfless help we have received from strangers.

One of the things about being away from home is that you miss it.  You miss being cared for by the people that you love.  While the care from strangers does nothing to replace the love from your family, I have found that it eases the ache that comes with being away. 

I lost my job at the bistro a few days ago and today as I was walking around handing out resumes, I bumped into the food delivery man from my old job.  I told him what happened and he told me not to fret, that he would find me work in no time.  Then I went to the bistro to say hello to the chef and he told me not to fret, that he would find me work in no time.  These people who barely know me are willing to take a chance on me and go out of their way to help out.

The moment on this trip that most exemplifies extraordinary compassion shown by strangers came about three and a half months into our trip.  We had left Adelaide and were about to begin our trek across the Nullarbor, a 2,600 kilometre stretch of desert.  About 40 kilometres from the nearest town our car broke down.  Our phone was dead, we were in the middle of nowhere and at a complete loss for what to do.  After attempting to fix the pulley and tug on the fan belt by ourselves we realized that we were no mechanics and our efforts were in vain.  So we resorted to waving at cars.  After close to an hour and plenty of cars driving by, a small sedan finally pulled over.  It was a woman and her two daughters.  The woman called her AAA service for us, unfortunately that didn’t work out, then she started waving at cars with us.  A trucker pulled over, gave us a tow rope and tied our car to the sedan before driving off.  The rope was not strong enough however and snapped.  So we began waving again.  A cop stopped.  He wanted to help, so he put on his flashing lights and pulled over another trucker and stole the truckers tow rope.  We doubled this rope up and the woman and her daughters towed us 40 kilometres to Port Augusta.  We dropped our car off at the local mechanic and then she drove us to a caravan park. We didn’t have the heart to tell her that we slept in our car and couldn’t afford the park.  So we ended up walking a mile or so back to our car in the mechanics parking lot.

Because it was Easter weekend and all business were closed, we spent the next five days in Port Augusta going crazy.  This video explains the events and may cover our temporary insanity.

The kindness shown by this woman is just one example of the extraordinary measures people are willing to take for strangers.  It will never cease to amaze me how kind people can be to one another.  And while it won’t replace the love from my friends and family back home, it certainly is nice to know there will always be people looking out for me.  Even if I don’t know who they are yet.


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