Tag, You’re It

We’ve both traveled plenty. We weren’t even that far out of our element. But the Bohemian and I had reached that point in our trek.

We weren’t lost in the wilderness, but we were in unfamiliar territory on our neighbor island, in the city of Honolulu. We’d been walking a couple mile stretch of asphalt streets, heading in the direction of the bus line that would take us to the airport and connect us with our flight home.

Our packs were each filled with five pounds of immigration paper work (the purpose of our Oahu day trip and the topic of another post) and even our most comfortable slippers were beginning blisters on our feet. The sun was in that pre-sunset blaze, roasting down on the us and the endless sidewalks.

We knew we were walking in the right direction, we just didn’t know how much longer the streets would meander and curve toward our #19 bus line. It was the Bohemian that spotted the 7-11 store and suggested that we just ask someone how close we were.

Still slightly dressed up from our appointment with Homeland Security, we didn’t quite seem island-style, as we entered the convenient store full of locals lined up buying cold drinks and spam musubi. Once the Bohemian began asking the question, his accent full and foreign, we looked like a couple of well-dressed backpackers that wandered too far from the hostel.

In response, several patrons pipe up about how we aren’t far from the main highway and our bus stop. And in typical Hawaiian style, they proceed to offer directions without street references (because it seems no one in Hawaii pays attention to street names unless it’s the one on which they live).

Instructions offered don’t get more specific than something like, “just go straight down this road and then turn left at the end. You’ll see it.” This was the strategy that had us walking the past two miles and I was seeking something a bit more specific.

One large man in a blue aloha shirt pays for his drink at the register and heads toward us and the door. “I’m walking in that direction, you can walk with me if you like and I’ll show you.”

We pause for a moment but agree to walk with him. As we move through the parking lot he tells us, “I knew I came to the store for more than an Arizona Ice Tea. This is just my way to show you a little aloha.”

When I tell him we live on Kauai, he lights up, surprised and happy. He offers the names of family members that live on the West side and recounts some of his favorite spots on our island.

In less than five minutes we’re in front of his restaurant destination and he’s pointing us in the direction of our bus line. “After you turn left there, you’ll soon come to the highway. Be careful. That’s a dangerous spot and people are driving crazy.”

We give our sincere thanks and it’s obvious our aloha-shirted friend feels happy to be our good Samaritan.

“Ok, you two. Have a good trip. God bless you. And tag, you’re it.”

Just as he indicated, we are soon on the highway at the bus stop for #19. It looks like we’ve got plenty of time to catch the plane. Our little directional challenge did not devolve into an argument between the Bohemian and I. All is well, as we ready to bid adieu to Oahu.

Cars pass as we wait for the bus. One minivan drives by with a huge sticker on the back window, outlining a boy with a stream of pee projecting from his body. I’ve seen smaller versions of this before but never one so large. I wonder at its meaning and puzzle for just a moment at what inspires its display.

Moments later, we hear a whistle and we peek around the branches of a tree to see the minivan stopped and the driver, door open, walking towards us.

“Hey, I saw you guys at the store!” He’s smiling.

“I’m heading to the airport, c’mon, I’ll take you there.”

The Bohemian and I look at each other. Merging traffic is pulling on to the highway and beginning to back up behind his stopped van.

The driver looks at the cars behind him and waves us forward. “C’mon!”

We walk up to the passenger side where I see the urinating boy sticker. Hmmm. He has swung the door open for us. We peer in and see the driver behind the wheel, the cab empty. He glances in his rear view mirror and I see the line of cars stuck behind his van.

“C’mon. Hop in, I’ll take you to the airport.”

We don’t need to say a word to one another. The Bohemian and I are both hesitant. We know the bus will be arriving any moment and though this man seems friendly enough, we have no idea who he is or where he’s really going.

“We’re alright. Thanks so much. We’re just going to wait for the bus.”

He sees our hesitation. “What, you scared?”

The cars behind him on the highway are getting impatient.

“Thanks for the offer…we’re good.”

He shakes his head in a bit of disappointment. “Okay.”

And we shut the passenger door and he drives off.

Within minutes our bus arrives, we board and head for the airport.

The Bohemian and I talked about it then and I ponder it still.

Going on my intuition alone, it seemed like the guy got inspired in the store by our good Samaritan and he wanted to be a part of the do-gooders club, too. I think he really did want to take us to the airport. And it seemed like when we denied him, he was both disappointed and annoyed. As though the state of the world had created a mistrust between humans that would not even allow us to let each other offer a helping hand.

So, that’s my gut feeling.

But I wasn’t going to gamble on it. And neither was the Bohemian.

The skeptical perspective says that guy could have been an evil-doer, seeing two fish-out-of-water asking for directions in the big city, with plans to drive us to who-knows-where and do who-knows-what to us.

Not for a minute do I regret declining his invitation. But I’ll forever wonder the true motivation of his gesture.

In the meantime, we’re on the look out for our turn to do a good deed, because after all, we’ve been tagged.

photo courtesy of Waikiki Natatorium
photo courtesy of Waikiki Natatorium

2 Comments

  1. Not being able to trust one another is one of the consequences of how we humans have treated each other. It will take a while of doing a lot of good to wipe that out, but we can do it. 🙂

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    1. I believe we do it more than any of us realize – trust and help one another, that is. The mainstream news shows all the terrible things (yes, that happens, too), but humans offer gestures of kindness so often and it’s usually not publicized. We did welcome the help and walk with our good Samaritan toward our bus stop. So we did trust to a point. It’s a dance of trusting and being open, but also discerning (like deciding not to get in the car on the highway with a stranger). Thanks for reading…:)

      Like

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