The Road Beneath My Feet…

[Not _my_ feet really, but it was the best Frank Turner lyrics I could come up with for this post. Let’s see how long I’ll be able to keep this lyric title thing going on :-)]

This afternoon, when I felt kind of too cooped up at home, I decided to go out for some coffee. Well, to actually drive to the nearest Starbucks, which is still some distance away. Starbucks is my guilty pleasure. Or one of them. I could get coffee / macchiato whatever in some of the caf├ęs in my small town as well, but I guess I prefer the anonymity of bigger cities. It’s hard to explain: I don’t usually mind going out for coffee on my own or sitting alone at a table in a restaurant or whatever. At least I don’t mind when I’m among strangers. Yes, they might glance over and wonder why I’m on my own (or maybe they don’t care at all) but as they are all strangers, I don’t care or have to care what they think. It’s different in a small town where I know quite a few people and where they know me. I tend to feel more watched and “jugded”, even if they don’t even watch and judge and it’s all in my head. I don’t know. And this isn’t what I wanted to write about.

So, I was driving towards the highway to get to the next bigger town with a Starbucks when I saw a “journeyman” standing by the road trying to hitch a ride. Germany is one of the very few countries which still has the tradition of travelling craftsmen (to go “on the Walz” after their apprenticeship) and they are easily recognizable, because they wear a traditional kind of uniform. Only a few do it every year, because it’s a hardship and they have to give up a lot for three years. Here’s a good english article about it: “Journeymen Traditions.”

I saw him standing there with his thumb up and as I drove past him, all kind of thoughts were running through my mind. Thoughts like: “Wow, they really still do this in real life and not just on TV. I wonder where he wants to go. It’s a shame that no-one is stopping for him.” This thoughts were followed by: “It’s Christmas, for God’s sake and you’re in no hurry to get your coffee.”
So I turned the car around and went back and he was still standing there trying to get a ride. When I asked him where he wanted to go, it turned out his destination wasn’t even out of my way, it was just a minor detour but perfectly fine, because it was the same direction. He was heading to his Granny to spend the holidays and I was more than happy to give him a ride.
I just wish I were a bit less shy and less socially inept or he had been a bit more outgoing. Maybe he was just as shy as I was ;-) We talked a bit, or well I asked a few questions (where he was from, when he had started his journey etc) and he answered, but that’s about it. I would have loved to ask a lot more questions about how life “on the road” is treating him and why he decided to do it in the first place, but I didn’t want to pry too much and so I never did ask.

When I dropped him off he thanked me and we wished each other Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and said Goodbye. I really do hope he has a very nice Christmas at his grandmother, because everyone should be able to spend Christmas with his family. Or, well, with the people you love. And I was happy I could help him to get there a bit quicker than he had been on foot.

To the east, to the east, the road beneath my feet
To the west, to the west but I haven’t got there yet
And to the north, to the north, never to be caught
To the south, to the south, my time is running out
(The Road ~ Frank Turner, 2009)

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