“Reaching beyond where you are is really important”
– Martin Seligman
Date 1st September
I was glad to leave the pub. There was no one around when I left. The guy in the room next door hacked his guts up all night long and walked past my room to the toilet like a hundred times. I didn’t get much sleep.
As I walked out of Nanango I went past a mechanical workshop. Two guys at the front asked me if I was the lady from the radio. I talked to them for a bit and they gave me a donation. The mechanic went into his office and came out with a donation too.
I walked through the rest stop near the BP and the first people I came to started talking to me about what I was doing. They were the stupidest people I came across on the whole trip.
The lady was aghast. “Oh! You must be so frightened!”
“What of exactly?” I asked her.
“Oh, there’s so many terrible people around.”
“Well, no, I’m not frightened. There’s nothing to be frightened of.
The man then launched into diatribe about how terrorists are bombing EVERYTHING and that they could bomb me on the road.
“The chances of anything like that happening are so miniscule that if you’re worried about that kind of thing, then the best thing to do is go back inside your house, close all the doors and windows and never come out again,” I said.
“Yeah, and then the bastards would burn down your house,” he said.
“Ok,” I said. I really wanted to get away from them, especially him, but then the lady made an historical statement. The kind that goes down in your memory as the stupidest thing anyone has ever said:
“You must have a lot of plastic in your bag.”
I did have a few ziplock bags with food inside them, but I didn’t think that’s what she was talking about, so I asked her, “What do you mean?”
“To make it look like that. You must have it filled with plastic and containers.”
Yes, I’m walking across the country with a bag that has nothing in it bar a bunch of scrunched up plastic just so it looks the way bags do when you go to a bag store.
I got away from them after that. They weren’t rude or anything, but just stupid in a way that I’d never encountered before in my entire life.
I walked past another group of people and they gave me a donation. They wanted to know why I was walking on the left hand side of the road. I tried to explain it, but they didn’t understand. One of them tried to tell me how I should be walking. I wanted to ask how many hikes they’d done along the side of the highway, but I just said ok instead.
A lady in the group said that her and her husband had driven past me near Kingaroy and that they wouldn’t have seen me if not for the orange high-vis bag hanging off the side of me. It was then that I realised that people don’t see me at all and that’s why they do stupid overtaking and drive too close to me when there’s no reason to do so: they have no idea that I’m even there. To most people I am invisible.
There’s no reason why a high-vis bag would really make me anymore visible. I am a total spectacle on the side of the road and there is nothing at all to obscure my visibility. I worked out that I am the gorilla: There’s this video about selective attention on YouTube where you have to count how many times a group of people pass a basketball. You’re so focussed on counting the passes that you don’t notice a gorilla that walks into the middle of the play, beats its chest and walks off. I think that people aren’t looking for a hiker on the side of the road and that’s why they don’t see me. I watched peoples’ faces today in cars as much as I could and pretty much none of them even looked at me. Maybe that means they didn’t see me, maybe it doesn’t, but it did make me wonder.
The walk today was really difficult because of the road shoulders. There really wasn’t any shoulder, so I had to stick to the tiny bit of bitumen on the outside of the fog line. The shoulders were really steep and there was no way to walk on them.
As I was closing in on the campsite a ute pulled up. The people got out and were very excited about seeing me. They handed me a can of lemonade and a $50 note. “That’s too much,” I said, but they were adamant they wanted to give it to me. They introduced themselves: Lorraine and Wayne and said they’d heard me on the radio. They’d be watching for me with binoculars! They said I should come and stay at their house, which wasn’t far away, so I did.
They were such nice people! I even got my own bathroom. They showed me around their garden, which was full of succulents and Wayne’s handiwork. “Ohhh, look at your chooks!” I said as we drove in. “They’re not real,” Wayne said. I had to look twice. He’d made them out of rusty iron.
Lorraine made a foot soak up for me and I sat in their patio area with my feet in it while drinking a nice cup of tea. My foot was still really sore from when it started hurting outside of Kingaroy. My left archilles tendon was about twice the size of the right one too, plus my blisters and stuff were a bit yucky. Basically, my heels kind of looked a bit like mince meat 😦
I went straight to bed after dinner and had the best night sleep that I’d had since I left home.
Wayne and Lorraine’s chooks
Wayne’s carving in a fence post