The Perils of Hitchhiking
Through France

There’s a saying I like that goes like this:


If the only tool you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

It’s why you’ll find screwdrivers, spanners, files, saws and so on in any good toolkit.

Earlier this week I shared with you a tool I use for navigating the ups and downs of life called: Getting back on the horse.

I.e. every time you take a knock, dust yourself down and get back in the saddle.

I also promised I’d share with you the time this tool got me into deep water. So here goes.

I was 18 and I’d finished college with no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I knew I didn’t want to go to University and I had no idea what kind of job I wanted.

So I got a stack of cash together and went travelling.

The idea was to get to Paris, start hitching and work/hitch my way around Europe.

I was looking for adventure and whatever came my way. I blame too much TV as a kid. Programs like: The Littlest Hobo and the 70′s ‘The Incredible Hulk‘ made travelling from one place to another meeting nice people and having adventures look deceptively easy.

My experience was very different.

Let me explain.

With zero ability to speak French or any other language for that matter I was unable to even ask for work, let alone find it. Add to that I had the social skills of single cell amoeba and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Three weeks into my adventure I was starting to run out of cash.

I’d been living on a bottle of water, a baguette and a vitamin tablet a day. I slept under a flysheet on a foam carry mat in fields or on benches in bus and train stations.

Awesome!

And by the time I hit Avignon near the South of France, unknown to me, I was starting to suffer from the effects of malnutrition. In my case it felt a little like being slightly drunkā€¦ all the time. So not totally unpleasant, but it did slow my reflexes and cloud my judgement.

Anyway, let’s get on with the story.

The day started like any other.

As I’d done a million times before I stood by the side of the road with my backpack and my thumb.

Another day of uncertainty ahead of me.

I’d met a lot of nice people on the road.

From truck drivers to a frustrated motorcyclist who drove his car like a bike and everyone in-between.

But I hadn’t met any predators.

Until this day outside Avignon.

Little did I know it was to become one of the worst days of my life.

After a few hours of not getting a lift a grey Peugeot stopped and eventually we established he was heading South and so was I.

We zoomed off down the road and joined the A7 – the equivalent of the UK Motorways – heading towards Marseille.

And as soon as we got onto the Motorway, that’s when it started.

That’s when the guy driving started touching me.

It began innocently enough.

As we spoke, every now and then he’d pat my leg (it was hot and I was wearing shorts).

I figured the Europeans were a more tactile bunch than us Brits and let it go.

Until he started talking about how unhappy he was with his wife and how at weekends he liked to cruise around picking guys up.

My brain eventually registered I was in trouble.

Just as he placed his hand in my crotch, gave it a good squeeze and asked me if I liked it.

Fortunately I remembered my escape drill.

It goes like this:

If you’re trapped in a car with a sexual predator best course of action is to make out that you’re going to vomit all over his car.

Under the circumstances this wasn’t a hard act for me to pull off.

And I started to heave.

The guy freaked out and swerved the car onto the hard shoulder like I hoped he would.

Once we’d stopped I didn’t hang around.

I opened the door and fled with my backpack (never put it in the boot/trunk!).

He didn’t hang around either and sped off back onto the motor way.

I was alone.

In the middle of nowhere.

By the side of a busy motor way.

I wasn’t sure what to do, I was in a bit of shock to be fair.

And I heard a voice saying:

Marcus, you’ve got to get back on the horse or you’ll never ride again. Stick your thumb out and get another lift.

Even though it’s illegal to hitchhike on motorways I stuck my thumb out anyway and within a few minutes a car pulled over.

Now with the benefit of hindsight I’d have been better off being picked up by the cops and arrested. But I didn’t know that at the time, I was just glad to be going again

Turns out my day was soon going to take a historic turn for the worse.

Why?

Well, that’s gonna have to wait until tomorrow I’m afraid Grasshopper.

This Qigong Daily has already gone way over word count and I’ve got to get my paperwork off to my accountant this morning.

So I need to get going.

I’ll finish this story off for you tomorrow.

Bye for now

And be safe.

Marcus

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