A Short Story on the Outskirts of London

I was staring at a pair of dogs behind the fence of a used car lot across the street. The criss-crossing highways moaned above my head and the exhaust fumes left me dizzy. I sat on the street corner at the exit to Road One, the highway to bring me straight north to Scotland. I had walked my way out of London's city center all the way to the edge of this turnoff, I didn't know what else to do. The sun had long passed below the horizon. Britain was playing in the World Cup while I walked, I could hear families cheering from passing houses. I had met a girl in London, my mind was still wrapped around her. I had walked quietly, feeling the air.

My first night walking endlessly around London I damaged my feet. I tried sleeping that morning in Hyde park but the runners and horse riders kept me awake and somewhat embarrassed. After three days of rest in a cheap hostel they were good to go again. The footwear I brought with me was too constricting, didn't fit. I bought a 2£ pair of flip flops downtown so that I could air my feet out. I walked to the outskirts of London in those flipflops. 



I sat on the curb of the exit for a while. Sodium vapor lamps dimly lit my corner.  It had been three says since I thumbed my last ride into the Keflavik airport. To begin hitching after a pause, long or short, always feel strange. To stick that thumb up and look into each approaching car is an extroverted sort of activity. In that moment I sometimes feel the need to separate myself from my body, to look down on myself as a puppet, so I can lift up that arm and begin. I sat on that curb waiting for the courage to raise my arm. 

Before the thumb even revealed itself from my pocket, a taxi driver stopped in front of me and offered a ride out of town.

Taking this ride was the least safe thing I've done while hitching. It's generally a bad idea to accept an unsolicited invitation to get in a car, especially at night. Even so, I got in. It was a real London taxi, smooth, curved black exterior, roomy backseat. The driver and I had pleasant conversation as we headed toward his small town through the night. I broke two widely held rules of hitchhiking and nothing bad happened. Not to say it won't happen. I got in the car believing that, with few exceptions, stranger-to-stranger relationships that begin with openness, positivity, and confidence on both sides lead to more positivity, openness, and confidence. I was rewarded with beautiful humanity, always a humbling experience.