Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called Hitchhiking, a moment of an encounter called In the Police Car, and a moment of a perspective called Most Important for a Child to Learn.
Comments or questions are welcomed on Twitter @emilykaytan OR on my website.
Hello and welcome to Episode #31 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. These are real-life stories that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Hitchhiking, In The Police Car, and Most Important Thing For A Child To Learn.
A moment of an adversity called: Hitchhiking
During college, it was winter break; many people were happy for vacation time, but not me. I had to find a place to go; I had to find somewhere to go because I was certainly not going home to relatives who made me feel like I never belonged there.
Off I went to San Francisco. In San Francisco, I could do so many things, but I wondered how I would survive the week with so little money in hand. The money I earned from school wasn't much, and I was a full-time student with no financial support other than government programs.
Luckily, I hitched a ride from a college friend. I went to a youth hostel because they were the cheapest accommodations I could find. There were rooms of bunk beds, and bathrooms were shared. For the affordable price, I couldn't hope for a better place to stay.
Roaming around the city on foot got exhausting; tourist spots with admission fees were tempting, and smelling the aroma of sourdough bread and seafood was appetizing, but I had to refrain from spending. I had to make sure I had enough money for lodging and transportation back to school. The hostel was closed from 9 am to 4 pm, so resting there during the day was not an option. I certainly got to see every store in the Fisherman's Wharf area where many tourists visited.
Fortunately, after only two days at the hostel, I met two ladies from Singapore. They were thirty years old. I remember this because they asked me for my age, and I was only twenty years old at the time. Since I was younger than them, they told me to hang with them and that they'd take care of me or keep me safe. They were thirty, and I thought they were old then, so I thought it would be safe to hang with them. At least they must know more than me! Little did I know what an adventure there would be ahead of me.
They said, "Let's go up north and explore Northern California." I said, "Sure, I have never been north of San Francisco." Then they said, "But we need a car, and we need a driver." They went walking around the hostel and found three guys with a van. They asked them about driving up north. They agreed. I thought this might not be safe; these were strangers. I didn't know the two ladies either, but they made me feel safe and told me not to worry as they would look out for me.
Since I had nothing better to do, I quietly followed. One of the guys seemed to like me because he was staring at me, making me uncomfortable. One of the ladies noticed and kept him away from me. Anyway, off we all went into a van.
We were on the road for a couple of hours before we finally stopped for an early dinner somewhere near the woods. It was a big restaurant that looked like a huge log cabin with the floor, tables, and chairs made of wood. During dinner, the guys and the ladies talked about finding a place to stay overnight. Those daring Singaporean ladies once again did the unimaginable.
Not only did they find a free ride up north, but now they were on the prowl for free lodging! They walked around the restaurant asking, and amazingly there was this older man with a fluffy gray beard who said he had a cabin in the woods and we could all stay at his place. There were six of us! Three guys and three gals. I couldn't believe we got three free overnight stays. I think I was too young and naive to be afraid. I was going along with a bunch of strangers!
The older man showed us around town, cooked a few meals for us, had sleeping bags for us to sleep in, and we all huddled around an old heater where pieces of wood needed to be thrown in the fire to keep the heat going. We all laid in sleeping bags on the wooden floor around the wood-burning heater and went to sleep. Strangers spending time with other strangers in the cabin was unexpectedly cozy and fun. Before I knew it, my winter vacation was over.
I shared my winter vacation adventures with my friends back at school, and they were shocked! They said, "How could you hitchhike like that! How could you spend some nights in a cabin out in the woods with strangers!" Innocent me said, "Why not? It was fun! And I didn't have to pay for the transportation or the cabin stay!"
I wanted my friends to tell me how great it was that I managed to save some money or found ways not to spend so much money, but they were more focused on how I could risk my life traveling with strangers.
That was my first time picking up people along the way to traveling. I wasn't scared because I didn't know any better. But as I recall this adventure, I can only say that I was lucky nothing terrible happened to me, and I am glad I lived to tell the story!
A moment of an encounter called: In the Police Car
Nobody would have ever guessed that I had been in a police car before. After all, I am such a good girl! I never did anything illegal or at least never got caught doing anything illegal. So, how did I end up in a police car?
It all happened when I was a teenager. My friend, Victoria, and I chatted about many things in the college dorms. Then one day, she said, "Have you ever seen a porn movie?" I said, "No." She said, "Let's go see one!" She made the arrangements. She checked the bus schedule and found out which bus to take to get to the theatre. This period was before the internet was commonplace, so you often watched movies at theaters. Our school was in the suburbs, neither one of us had a car, and going anywhere away from school was inconvenient. Though there was some public transportation, that too was infrequent and inconvenient.
The day came. On Saturday morning, we got on a bus with a few people. My friend wore sunglasses and a hat to disguise herself. I didn't understand why she did that at the time. I suppose I was naïve. She said she didn't want anyone to see her going to see this movie. I said we didn't know anybody in this town, so what was there to hide? Anyway, the plan was to catch the 10 am matinee, see the movie, have plenty of time to roam around, explore that town next to ours, catch the last bus at 5 pm, and be on time for the campus dinner by 5:30 pm.
As it turned out, we got on the bus and got off the bus at the right place to catch the matinee. We sat down to watch the movie. My friend still had a hat and sunglasses on inside the theater. I didn't know how she could see anything indoors like that. We slowly turned our heads to see who else was in the audience. They were all older men, and some of them had hats on, too. I was the odd one out because I didn't have a cap. I don't think we even watched half an hour of the movie when we left. I certainly don't remember what I saw. I remember us looking around to see who else was watching the movie. We noticed it was all men, and they were all old, or at least older than us teenagers. Now we felt out of place; we didn't belong. We were female and young; they were male and old. Our eyes rolled around. Thankfully, nobody was looking at us. They must have been too busy watching the movie, and of course, it was a dark theater. I think my friend and I were so uncomfortable doing what we were doing that she turned to me and said, "Do you want to go?" "Ya," I said. Quick as mice, we ran out of there.
After we walked out of the theatre for a few minutes, my friend burst out in laughter. I said, "What's so funny?" We proceeded to talk about the details of the audience members we saw. She counted seven men with hats on. I think she was looking at the company she had of hat wearers. I think they were just older men who wore hats to keep their bald heads warm or the fashion of older men. She said, "Man, they were all old!" I said, "How do you know?" She said, "They all had white or gray hair." I said, "It was so dark inside; how could you see?" She said, "I could see by using the light from the movie screen." She must have worked hard to look at those details. I'm guessing she watched the audience members more than the movie itself. As for me, I was not watching much of either one. I was sitting there, uncomfortable as if I was doing something wrong. I wasn't doing anything wrong as I was of age, and I had my identification card for that state. I guess it was just a taboo. We continued our chatting, had lunch, explored the area, but there was not much to see in a very suburban area. Fortunately, we always had plenty to chat about with each other. Then it was almost 5 pm, and we headed to the bus stop.
We waited and waited. Could the bus be that late? It would be the last bus. We couldn't have missed it, because we got to the bus stop early. Oh, my goodness, are we stranded? We don't have enough money for a taxi ride. What are we going to do? We waited an hour, and the bus never came. We didn't know why. Maybe my friend got the wrong information, or the bus broke down, we didn't know. I was like a zombie, I didn't know what to do, and I couldn't think clearly to develop a solution. We were in college, had no friends with cars, didn't want anybody to know about our excursion. It would be so embarrassing if anybody knew what we did!
My friend, however, had a shocking idea I could never have fathomed. She said she would call the police because the call was free, and the ride would be free. And we'd be safe. I said, "But we didn't do anything wrong!" She said, "Don't worry, they will pick us up and give us a free ride home." She must have had some experience to know this or even think of this! Without an alternative solution to offer, I agreed. She quickly called, the police soon came, and we promptly got into the police car.
As we sat in the police car, I noticed how silent it was. Nobody uttered a word. I saw the steel bars between the two policemen and us; I noticed them on the side windows, too. It almost felt like we were in jail; I felt trapped. It seemed like a long half-hour ride back to school. No one talked for that whole half hour. My eyes stared out the tinted window. I was scared. I was afraid of what I didn't know. Just being in a police car felt like I did something wrong, and someone would punish me. Finally, we arrived on campus. They dropped us off right in front of the dormitory where students go on the weekends for dinner in the seven-day-a-week full meals plan. By that time, it was after 6 pm. It just started to get dark.
Once the car stopped, I proceeded to try to get out of the vehicle and discovered that I couldn't get out! Panic quickly set in that I was trapped! Luckily, seconds later, one of the policemen came over and opened the door for me. You could only open it from the outside. This procedure was not news to my friend. She must have sat in a police car before because she knew how things worked. I never thought to ask her; I was too busy being scared. What made the experience worse was when we got out of the car, many people entered the dorm for dinner, and my friend burst out into loud laughter. She did it again. Now I was embarrassed, and people were looking at us. That was my first and last experience in the police car. Scary but only funny when you look back on the incident. And if you were there, it was no laughing matter even if you committed no crime. Just thinking that I did something like a taboo left me guilt-ridden. And to be caught or getting police officers involved in the process of it all was embarrassing but memorable encounters.
A moment of a perspective called: Most Important for a Child To Learn
There are so many things for a child to learn, know, see, do, and experience in this world! While one can make a very long list and even prioritize them, when posed with the most important thing for a child to learn, I could only come up with one word again and then again.
Why did I choose that word? In self-reflection, I could only say it is most important because it was missing in my life. Early in life, I was already left to feel unwanted, unvalued, and unloved because I was left to be raised by Grandma.
Without love, what was the value of me as a human being? Where did my self-esteem go? I don't know how I survived to this day, but I still want to be loved, and I still want to love.
Grandma must have loved me; she certainly took care of me.
My serious boyfriends must have loved me; they proposed to me.
My work boss must have loved me; she gave me so many things, time, and care.
I say I must have been loved because it seemed to be so logical. But in my heart, I don't or never wholly believe that anybody loved me. Why? It was probably the impact of that first time when my mother disposed of me. But because of it all, I learned that the most important thing for a child to know is that they are lovable and worthy of love.
In the most devastating breakup of my life, my heart felt like it was stabbed and gutted out. The life, the energy within me, was all taken out, and I walked around like a zombie. I was dead. There was no love left in me. Without love, I was dead. Without love, I was not living like I was alive.
With love, one can overcome so much more quickly. With passion, one can be motivated to do so much. With love, one can feel life so worth living. With love, one can see so much more beauty in the world. Love is so powerful. With love, a child can grow with confidence to do so much. With love, a child can feel happiness and joy. It is with love that there is joy and value in life.
We need not worry about getting love from others or trying to please others because it'll be disappointing, and it is an endless journey. What then? Focus on giving love and kindness to others; that is something anybody has the power to do, and that is the satisfaction to find in life. Having traveled to Bhutan, the land of happiness, I experienced the meaning of giving freely and lovingly as I was on the receiving end of it from strangers. Indeed, pure kindness and love can produce dividends. We need to learn from it, do it, enjoy a fulfilling life, and spread it.
Simply put, the most important thing for a child to learn is LOVE. Give love and feel loved. The most important thing we can give a child is LOVE or make a child feel worthy of love. With love, life is beautiful.
Key Takeaways: Though I hitchhiked, I had fun and was lucky to be safe.
Though we were stranded, we were saved by the police with a ride home, and I got the experience of sitting in a police car!
Though I grew up with little love, I learned that the most important thing for a child to learn is to be loved and feel worthy of love.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called No Place To Go, Encountering That Farmer ,and Just History. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please leave a comment, share it on your social media, subscribe or click like on Youtube, or go to www.inspiremereads.com. Thank you for listening!