Need a ride?
Ruth & I have been extremely lucky while traveling. On several occasions strangers have seen our predicament and offered us rides. Six come immediately to mind.
We arrived in Brussels, Belgium, by train having been warned that criminals preyed on passengers at several stations. We headed straight for the first exit. Waiting outside was a businessman from India. We struck up a conversation, found a tenuous connection, and exchanged business cards. When a taxi pulled up, he asked where we were going, said it was on his way, and told us to get in. He would not let us pay. Waiting for a train at another station three-day later, Ruth’s travel bag was stolen. Be careful in Brussels.
Waiting for our bags to appear on the carousel in Launceston, Tasmania’s airport last year, I said to Ruth, “It’s after 10 pm so the shuttle has stopped running. It’s further into town than I thought. I wonder what a taxi is going to cost?” The lady standing next to me overheard. “I’m going through town and can drop you at your hotel.”
On our way to the outstanding, chilling Museum of the Warsaw Uprising, Ruth & I got off the bus at the wrong stop and had no choice but to wait for the next one. We chatted with a woman who was expecting her husband to pick her up momentarily. When her husband pulled up, she leaned in and spoke to him in Polish. “Get in,” she said. “We’ll drop you there.” They refused money.
We got off the train in Split, Croatia, at 9 pm and headed up a hilly street. The Art Hotel (not recommended) was not at the intersection where I thought to would be. A young man pulled up and asked if we needed help. I told him where we were going and he said it was at the other end of the street and a long way. In the middle of trying to give us directions, he said, “Never mind. I’ll take you.” Despite the fact that it was dark, late, and he was a stranger of unknown motive, we got in. He was a Good Samaritan after all. The next day we explored Diocletian’s Palace and fell in love with Split.
I told the story about meeting Diana from Great Britain in Russia. It’s in the archives under “St. Petersburg’s Best Palace” published on November 19, 2012. What I didn’t include was that Diana got rather angry with me when I insisted on paying for the taxi ride to her hotel. She prevailed. I bought her a drink instead.
My favorite tale about the kindness of strangers occurred in Kaunas, Lithuania, and involved a twenty-something musician named Ugnius. If you’re interested, check out “Going to Kaunas” published on November 3, 2012.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that all of the above occurred in distant countries. We have been equally lucky in the U.S. but not as often mainly because we generally know our way around here.