27 January 2007

"I always rely on the kindness of strangers..."

Once you get away from the coast, there are huge distances between most towns in Australia.

We had a few problems with the car, and had to push start it quite a few times. We drove straight through a big town, not wanting to stop and then have to push it again. About an hour down the road, I suddenly looked at the petrol gauge.

"Shit! We're runnning on empty! Why didn't we think to look when we went through that town?"

All the way to the horizon was flat, brown fields. Luckily, before too long we saw a turnoff to a small town. And I mean small - one shop, a few houses, and a petrol station that had obviously closed down about twenty years ago.

We went into the shop and asked where the nearest petrol was. About a hundred k's in either direction.

What could we do? We looked at each other helplessly, and then sat down. I'm sure, if we'd thought further, we would have walked back to the highway and waitied for someone to come so we could hitch a lift to the next town, get a jerry-can of petrol, and hitch back. But we hadn't thought of that yet.

The shopkeeper saw that we weren't going anywhere - we'd used the last fumes of petrol to limp into the town. He picked up his phone and made a few quiet phonecalls.

Not long after, a farmer turned up.

"Look, we've got our own petrol bowser on the farm. We're not allowed to sell it. But I can give you some if you keep quiet about it."

We pushed the car and followed him to his farm.

He gave us twenty bucks worth of petrol for free. We gave him twenty backs for helping us push-start the car again. No one broke the law.

I'm so glad that people will still help each other out. Not only the shopkeeper, and the farmer, but all those who stopped to help us push the car across the state until we got it fixed. That kind of open hearted generosity and kindness towards strangers is a precious thing in this current climate of fear and suspicion.


Chaotic Cat said...

This is a very heart warming story. I am sure at the time it was not fun at all.

How ever I am very glad that you were OK. I have often found that people living in smaller towns are far more open to assisting strangers.

ArtfulDodger said...

That is an awesome story, for some reason I kept expecting the small town to be full of zombies or something... I think that says more about me than anything else. :)

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a small town and love it! You really can tell a difference from a small town to a big city, can't you?

hasarder said...

You're both right, CC and DFP, small towns are different and more open to helping strangers.

And Art - zombies, huh? Is that part of the climate of fear and suspicion or do you just like a good zombie story? If so, hope you checked out AAG's site the other day! ;)