The Way of Kindness: As Natural as Daylight

Pam Mandel
Sunset over whitewashed village on volcanic rim of caldera.
Getty

We were going to sleep on the sidewalk, if we were going to sleep at all. It was that or the freeway median, and that seemed an even worse choice. I did not want to sleep on the sidewalk or the freeway median, but there were no hotels, there were no campgrounds, there was ... nothing. The town was little more than a crossroads, a few streets lined with white stucco houses. We had been dropped there hours -- or was it days; it felt like days -- before and could not catch a lift out.

And now, the sun was going down. Sunset ends a hitchhiker's day. Drivers want to see the goods. They want to see the battered cardboard sign -- ours said PATRAS -- and the backpacks with the unraveling seams. Drivers want to see your face. Once you've turned into a cut-out shadow, the day is over. There would be no rides and, to the dismay of my increasingly noisy stomach, no dinner.