Learning, Believing, Achieving – Edition 1, Term 1/2019
Date: February 1, 2019 Posted by: Alana Ripepi
Sometimes an authentic experience reminds you of the good.
I was driving my mother-in-law’s car up to Cairns recently, for a six month usage by daughter #1 who was returning from Europe for a brief stay before returning to Europe to take up her Masters. As I travelled up the Bruce Highway, I realized that I was well and truly in rural Queensland due to the frequency of Pauline and Clive billboards along the road, rather than those of the major parties. Whilst some in the cities may look down on rural and regional Australians as less sophisticated or global thinking than those in the population centres, this small interlude reminded me of what I love about country Australia.
I had stopped for bottle of water (okay, okay, Coca Cola) and a stretch at a roadhouse somewhere between Gladstone and Rockhampton at around 5:30pm. It had a caravan and camping ground situated behind. There was an eclectic bunch in the roadhouse – many truck drivers, a few tradies, some fellow travelers. A Japanese couple pulled up and came in, driving a Britz van. Their English was very poor, and they proceeded to try and get directions to a nearby landmark from the gum-chewing 17 year old behind the counter. The young lady was lovely with the Japanese tourists – patient and warm. But effective communication was not occurring. Two truck drivers came up and tried to help explain it in a different way, then a young disreputable-looking fellow joined in. I was watching these four Australians all doing their best to assist these Japanese tourists, and doing it for all the right reasons. After lots of smiles, laughter and “thank you’s”, the travelling couple were on their way.
When you watch the news, they seem to take delight in focusing on the negatives, the divisions, the crises. From marches in the cities against this or that, or statements from prominent people saying something against this or that, to journalists pouring over past social media posts for a “gotcha” moment. Yet, in (not just) roadhouses across Australia, I’m sure the same thing is playing out where humans help other humans because it is the human thing to do.
Studies are showing as we progress with technology and acquire more and more “stuff”, as a society we are actually becoming more miserable. Sometimes we need a reminder that most people from across the world are inherently good. For a few hours after watching the interaction at the roadhouse, I found myself feeling a great sense of happiness.