Random Acts Of Kindness 02
September 2010: The weather had changed. As we lay in our tent, we listened as rain began to patter on the thin nylon shell of our tent.
We were 40 days into our cycle ride across North America and the sound didn’t bother us: we were cosy inside and tired enough not to care.
We’d started that day by cycling to a school just outside Bozeman, where we gave a talk about our ride to around 100 children. After riding back into town for a coffee, we’d resumed our route towards Yellowstone.
Luckily, there was a tailwind pushing us along that day and the climb over the Bozeman Pass seemed relatively easy. From the summit – at about 5,760ft – we had a glorious long descent in bright sunshine towards Livingstone.
We’d originally planned on riding for another 10 miles. However, we’d clocked up around 160 miles over the past three days and were both feeling a bit weary, so decided to call it a day when we saw a campsite just south of Livingstone
It was a good call – when the campsite owners realised we were riding for charity they said we didn’t have to pay. That evening we sorted out some laundry and chatted to a British motorcyclist riding from Alaska to Panama.
He seemed a bit more cynical about his experience, questioning whether the ‘have a nice day’ attitude of many Americans was really genuine. His comments made us appreciate our slower pace and all the opportunities we were having to meet and talk to people along our way – we’d met nothing but genuine kindness and warmth from everyone we’d come across as we cycled south from Vancouver.
As the weather closed in, we retired to our little tent and fell asleep to the sound of the rain. Our laundry was hanging out on a line but there was little point bringing it in as it was still damp from the wash.
The next morning, Carolyn was first up. As she got out of the tent, she surprised a lady in the process of leaving a bag containing 15 quarters on our picnic table.
The woman, who was staying in one of the RVs on the site, had written a little note saying she felt sorry for us with our washing hanging out in the rain and was leaving the quarters so we could put our clothes in the dryer.
Carolyn started trying to explain that our cycling gear was made of material that couldn’t go in a dryer but gave up as our benefactor insisted we took the quarters. Leaving the money with Carolyn, she hurried away. It was as if she was embarrassed – she’d clearly meant to leave an anonymous gift and didn’t want thanks.
We took the money in the spirit in which it was meant. Our clothes went away damp to be dried out that evening, while the $3.75 was spent on coffees later in the morning. It was just another random act of kindness from a stranger, another in a string of events that – while individually small – helped reaffirm our belief in human nature.