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English Hitchhiking

In 1972 I was in England with my friend Ben, a traveling companion I had met on the plane (Icelandic, of course). As you say, it's not hard to meet up with compatible folks when you're traveling single. We had hitched out to Stratford-on-Avon to see a Shakespearean play (Titus Andronicus, if memory serves).

We were a little nervous about getting back to our B&B on time, as it was run by a crotchety old man who bluntly told all his guests that he didn't hand out house keys and he wasn't staying up past midnight for anyone, so be home by 12:00 or else. After the play we stood by the road for a long time, finally being picked up by an American couple. He was some sort of academic who was on a year's exchange program, and they and their young son were staying in some other professor's castle for a year. They dropped us at the crossroad that would lead back to our B&B, and said goodnight.

Minutes passed, then half an hour; we knew now we were too late and were wondering what to do when our kindly friends showed up again. They said they realized that nobody would be coming by at this late hour, so they invited us to spend the night at their place. Thus I spent my one and only night in a castle. The walls were stone, and thus pretty chilly, and the stone stairways narrow and rather treacherous, I thought, but who would not want to live there, at least temporarily?

I got a room to myself, but Ben was put in with their two-year-old son, who took waking up to a strange roommate without comment, just big round eyes. In the morning they fed us and took us back to the road, where we said goodbye with many thanks. We soon caught a ride back to the B&B, to find that all our things had been packed up and thrown out into the hallway. The crotchety old man couldn't have cared less about our adventure, and let us know that we were no longer welcome under his roof since we couldn't abide by his one simple rule.

One certainly meets people from all portions of the kindness spectrum when traveling!




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