“The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one” –Erma Bombeck
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be slaving away behind a slab of wood. Wearing a suit. Making money. Being a serious adult. How on earth did I find myself in a motel room with a woman who thought the FBI was building a drugs factory under her house? Bloody hell! How could this have happened?
It did happen. I also know how it started.
I was trapped in a dead end job. Depressed. Lost. Frustrated. I was unimaginably fed up with myself and everyone else. Then it happened. Change happened. I watched the movie The Motorcycle Diaries and I experienced a dramatic shift in my life. It made me see what was staring me in the face. A life of adventure and connection was what I truly sought.
Not a life sitting behind a slab of wood.
The journey in the movie that Che Guevera took from Buenos Aires to Caracas had shifted something in my soul. About bloody time too! But what wasn’t supposed to happen was being stuck in this motel room with cinnamon*
With my new-found freedom coursing through my veins I had decided to take a trip across America relying on the kindness of strangers. I wanted to put my corporate life behind me. I wanted to seek out people. I wanted change. What better way to do this than travel from Times Square to the Hollywood sign with $5 in my pocket and a lofty goal of finding myself.
I would have to rely entirely on strangers for food, accommodation and transport. Basically everything. I couldn’t accept any money. Only acts of generosity.
So, back to Cinnamon. I had met her on the bus from Washington to Richmond and she was quite a character. Apart from believing that the FBI was building a drugs factory under her house she was convinced that she was being targeted for assassination. That her mother was a white witch.
She did very graciously offer to put me up for the night and that is how I ended up in a motel room with cinnamon.
The colorful stories don’t end there. Oh no! She was but the beginning. My trip across America put me in contact with a wide array of crazy and interesting characters. It also put me right in the kind beating heart of the America I know and love so dearly. After all it was a wave of generosity that got me to my goal of reaching the Hollywood sign.
Here are some of those stories…
I stayed the night in a blood stained motel room. Faced down a couple of pimps in New York (well, if cowering behind a lamppost constitutes facing down…). Was nearly murdered by an Indianapolis drug dealer (ok, this maybe a slight exaggeration, but the police were called…)
Along with these wild stories I received kindness on an epic scale. A lady in Chicago gave me the keys to her home when she wasn’t even going to be there. “Just leave the keys in the flowerpot” she said. I found my way to a small leafy town in Illinois called Galesburg where they raised over $100 to buy me a train ticket to Denver.
In addition to the astonishing acts of kindness, I met a sprinkling of some of Americas finest. A highlight being my friend Gene: who was a former navy officer present at the zenith of the Cuban missile blockade.
People from all walks of life helped to make my trip across America a life changing and defining moment in this mans life. Ever since I completed that journey I have wanted to give back. I wanted to repay the kindness and generosity showed to me by perfect strangers. A kindness and generosity that helped inspire this Englishman to live fully.
To celebrate the launch of my book, Amazing Adventures of a Nobody, I will be retracing my steps from Times Square back to the Hollywood sign. This time it is I who will be offering kindness. I am driving a vintage London cab for charity and giving people free rides along the way.
Hopefully I will bump into Cinnamon…
*Not her real name. She insisted on going by this code name