I have lived all my 70 years in a small coastal community, built on the back of crayfishing, farming and mining.
It is a town where, unfortunately, our young people are no strangers to drugs, alcohol and unemployment.
On a sunny afternoon as I walked along the main path towards the harbour of this small town, three young people walked towards me — two young men and a young woman. They were about 16 or 17 years old.
I noticed they’d had a swim or been surfing as the young woman still had her wetsuit on, while the men were dressed in their boardies and singlets.
They were not familiar but seemed very pleasant and happy as they came near. They all smiled, but the young man with floppy black curls closest to me said “hello”. I did the same and continued on my way.
About 10 steps further down the path I heard a voice saying, “Excuse me.” I looked around and this same young man said: “Would you mind if I gave you a hug?”
As a woman who has walked this path a mil- lion times I was stunned, but I smiled and said, “Seriously?” He said, “I’d love a hug if it’s all right.”
In that instant, I weighed up the situation and thought: what the hell! I walked towards him and he, arms outstretched, walked towards me. Hug accomplished.
As he walked away, he smiled and “You’ve made my day.”
I replied: “You know what, you have made my day as well.”
I’ll never know if it was a dare or not but I really didn’t care. I felt good. I spent the next few days thinking about this random act over and over.
Each time it brought a smile to my face. I will said, also never know what made me, in that nanosecond, choose to hug that young man despite having never laid eyes on him before.
As I later recounted this story to my partner and friends, the reactions were very interesting. My partner, concerned by my impulsive reaction, said: “What on earth were you thinking?”
He has always felt I see the world through rose-coloured glasses and not the dangerous place it can sometimes be.
One friend said, “There’s no way would have reacted like that.”
One even had tears in her eyes as she heard the story, perhaps longing for a time when these seemingly acts of kindness were more common.
I’d like to think that my arms will always be open to unexpected surprises that come my way.
What would you have done?
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