It was 1994, I was 17, and I spent my vacation working as a postal worker in a rural town south of Drenthe, Netherlands. I was looking forward to having a couple of days off from the duty. Unfortunately, I found myself stranded as there was only one train a day back to my hometown, some 180 km away, and it had already left. Still in my uniform, I thought I’d hitch a ride.
I waited by the side of the highway for almost two hours, but no-one stopped for me. Finally, a man walked over and introduced himself as Rodger. He said that although he couldn’t give me a lift, I should come back to his house, which was across the road, for lunch. He’d been watching me and thought I must be hungry after standing for hours in the November heat. I was very dubious, but he assured me I was safe, and he also offered to help me find a lift home afterwards.
When we arrived at Rodger’s house, he made us sandwiches. He told me he had just lost his wife and his small dog was his only companion. After lunch, he flagged down a car, which took me to my hometown.
I eventually married, but my husband didn’t believe in giving strangers a ride. This made me feel bad when we’d pass people waiting on the roadside, as I could never offer them the lift they hoped for.
Fourteen years later, in 2008, I was driving to a nearby town, when I noticed an elderly man with a small girl, standing in the glaring heat, trying to hail a ride. As I was now a widow, I saw my chance to repay someone for the favor I’d been given decades earlier. I pulled over and picked the pair up. I made them comfortable on the back seat and shared some water and sweets.
After a few minutes of small talk, the man said to me, “You haven’t changed a bit, even your hair style is still the same.”
I couldn’t recall where I’d met him. He then told me he was the man who had given me lunch and flagged down a car all those year ago. He was Rodger Winters, my now husband.
(photo courtesy of Vladi79/Dreamstime.com)