Nothing is for free in this world is a saying that my dad has been preaching for as long as I can remember, the funny thing about this is that anyone who knows my dad and has seen his shed will no this is quite a contradiction coming from him, considering the amount of crap he has in his shed and that the majority of it was for "free" or so he says. The reason why I bring this up is when I first mentioned to him about people offering free places to stay, food and lifts all to a weary stranger he utterd them exact words back to me "Nothing is for free in this world". At the time I thought he was being his same old hardarsed self, seething and hating on any kind of good deed that the human race could conjure, but the longer I'm on the road the more I seem to becoming around to his idea, not that I'm hardarsed, seething or hating now just that I see what he means, in that sometimes it would be easier to pay for a room, a meal or a lift but then where is the adventure in life.
This saying has always been a thought at the back of my mind over my travels but recently it came to the forefront as I sat on a couch in a complete strangers house after completing The Otago Central Rail Trail in which I had walked 152km in 4 and a half days, unknowingly I had just arrived at the exact same time they where holding their weekly Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International meeting, what are the odds. The last thing I felt like doing was sitting down to discuss religion and yet here I was watching a DVD of a gospel choir belt out a few of their favourite songs about the lord but as I looked around the room at the 6 elderly guys clapping and swaying to the beat the caffeine kicked in and it felt like I was having some holy out of body experience. All I wanted to do was sleep and here I was perked up on caffeine and the lord, so as I sat there trying to hold it together all I could think of was why didn't I just pay for a room that night but as my high wore off I was glad I didn't, would I be writing this now if I had of.
I have been shouted my fair share of meals over my travels from the basic to the absurdly expensive, some I have intended to pay for and some I didn't even pretend to try and pay for it. I once actually dreamt about the astronomical figure of a meal that I had been shouted that night and it wasn't just me dreaming about it but also my old travel buddy who had the same strangely haunting dream about a bill mounting in ¥100,000 department, which is close to $1,000 Australian. You might think this isn't that bad but when you consider there was only 3 of us, well 5 of us if you include his wife and child, but they had apparently already eaten before we went out. So as they sat there nursing their water and rice their husband/ father went about ordering us all kinds of excotic things off the menu, from whale to sea urchin all the while washing it down with gold sake. So it could have been the gold sake that brought forward the hallucinations or the poor endangered animals haunting us or the sullen faces of the wife and child as they experienced such an unpleasant time that were etched into our minds but whatever it was we both felt a touch of guilt the next day, therefore leaving a sour taste in our mouths and lowering our appreciation of such an extravagant meal that we had traded our souls for, this was the price we paid in the end.
Alot of times when you are getting into someone's car it's not only their car you are entering but also their personal space, therefore they feel free to express their own problems, opinions and ideas that they normally wouldn't if they were sitting on a bus, plane or train next to you. So sometimes you have to go along to get along as they say, even if this person is calling for the death of all cripples or that the influx of Islamic immigrants are destroying the Australian way of life and that the natives of all countries are a waste of space, it doesn't matter if they are Aboriginal, Maori or Indian. These are some of the times when I wonder why I didn't buy that ticket but then where is the adventure in that as I would be sitting on some bus, plane or train bored out of my mind instead of listening to people's problems, opinions and ideas, this then allowing them to open up both their heart and mind while I become some sort of psychiatrist for them, trading my company for a lift.
So somethings in this world may be free of monetary value but there are other ways one can pay, from enduring the odd and eccentric host, to a guilty meal or just being someone's psychiatrist as they vent theirs and the world's problems on to you but in the end isnt this the trade off for your time and energy. A free bed, a free meal or a free lift all come with strings attached. As I type these words all I can hear is the old man's voice echoing from behind me fading away slowly to a laugh "Nothing is for free in this world" HHAAHHAA HAHA hhaahhaa haha ha.....