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10 Cars to Brussels (1/10)
The first ride
Waiting in the metro can follow drastic different moods, on routinary work mornings everything seems gloomy and boring all you want is to be on the next train back home. When you are late and rushing, tunnel vision takes over and it feels as if you are not even really there as people pass, stations come and go until you arrive to destination, liberated you can finally see life at 360° again. This morning it’s the most beautiful way, filled with excitement and thrill, savouring every moment, every sight, the soul fact that I am alive. The upcoming adventure fuels me by the inside and life finally seems to start making sense. I get called out by my friend Tito, waiting for me on the front end of the metro train wagon, I sit next to him and now the adventure begins. He hands over to me a huge rectangular piece of cardboard, last night he made these colourful signs written on them “Brussels”, “Luxembourg”, and even “Strasbourg”, on this last one he explains to me giggling how he didn’t even realize that Strasbourg was a city on a completely different direction to the one we were heading. Man I love this goofiness! I hope it lasts for my whole life. The train arrives to its last station, and now we transfer into a bus that can take us to the outskirts of the city, our departing point, an old Red Highway hotel called “Le Carré” recommended by Tito’s grandfather as the best point to hitchhike from Lyon, France to the north of Europe. When we get there it looks completely deserted but we stay motivated and procced to position ourselves strategically on two different sides of a roundabout leading to the highway entrée, we look ridiculous but it’s an exhilarating feeling, cars pass by, laughing, apologizing, some old couples make strange surprised faces, fancy rich men cars don’t even look at us, they are surely too busy making money for that.
Finally! After half an hour a nice hatchback stops for us, we join a handsome middle-aged couple, they take us no so far, actually just on the opposite side of the freeway, explaining to us that we were on the complete wrong side, in fact all the cars passing by were heading to the south or back to Lyon (the city we were leaving), they were really surprised no one let us know before. That must explain the strange reactions we got; I think. They drop us off at a stoplight that now leads directly to the underpass of the highway, this place seems much more strategic, we even now have a stop light on our side. This is going to be even funnier. People are so ashamed, they try to hide, ignore us, or even one lady she tried to cover herself with the sun visor, it made Tito and I crack up every time! Cars still just keep ‘ on passing by, it seems like it’s going to take a while, so we take the chance to piss in the deserted little garden on the side, in our minds this is key to our success since pissstops are much more difficult in our way of travelling. Now right when I get back, I see the light turn red, and on the other side I see that Tito is already speaking with a man lowering his window,
In a tired French voice:
-” Guyse excuze me in advanse but zI can only take you to zhe next toll, I have to work in zhe town after zhat”
-“That sounds incredible, do you think we have a better chance there to get on a car?”, we reply
-“Heum, you know I am not zan expert in zhis hitchhiking, so I can’t say”
I look at Tito and he looks back; we have no time to waste let’s go on with it!
So, we get in the small family Citroen, man it’s a mess, seems like the last time it has been cleaned was when the guy bought it. Tito is sitting in the front seat and starts the conversation, and we talk about his profession: he works in a huge refuge for homeless people, he seems really tired and worn out, and goes on to explain how the computerization of the workplace has changed for the worst, a job based on social contact is now completely run through computer screens, the new people who come to work can’t handle the complicated personalities that the organization receives every day, they have no practice and it isn’t like the homeless are now better at online registration. They have no home for God sake even less, access to a device with internet. We could feel it, this man had been working for too long and wasn’t paid enough for his time. But he kept on, maybe because he had a family, I could see on my side a baby seat and some kid’s plush toys. We kept on talking about other things like, our trip, and where we came from, since I was sitting in the back of the car, I couldn’t hear much, of his mumbling like monotone early morning-tired voice, it dissipated into the sound of other faster cars on the highway. We quickly get to one of the most immense toll stops I have seen, shake hands and thank him for his kindness, we wish him happy new year and good luck on with his computerized work. Now I understand how generosity comes in all forms, shapes and feelings, this man was exhausted in life, but still listened to that fire inside, I can’t imagine how much fortitude this man carries.
We cross this decorative garden banks on the side of the highway, somehow walking around there feels like being in a different planet, where there are no other humans and only steel motorized machines going at unstoppable speed, there is no sounds of other living being, or life, only the shoooom, of the machines, it makes my skin frisson.
We set up again on the right side of the toll, spaced by some meters, keeping up with our same strategy, smiling and holding our cardboard signs high, I wonder if anyone can read what is written on them…
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