Weather: Sunny 25C. Mood: hyperglycaemic
I’m walking down the Main Street of Daylesford. A rough voice right behind me. “What brand of backpack is that?”
It was a gorgeous morning. Kelly and I had just walked around the lake and into town to check it out. A couple of kilometers.
I turn around and within 1.4 seconds have made a thorough and through-going judgement of the person standing before me. Scruffy beard. Old battered cap. Large orange backpack. A radio scanner and a handheld transceiver attatched to respective shoulder straps. Hung from his neck a string flask holding a half-empty bottle of coke. A clip on his belt holding a large Ferro rod and a bazillion miscellaneous keys.
1.4 seconds. I have intuited his socioeconomic status, speculated his personal hygiene routine, assessed his threat risk, extrapolated his vices, and constructed his mental health and medical history.
I was to be proved utterly wrong on all counts.
Backpack man (as he is known locally) and I stood the sidewalk chatting for quite some time. He was outgoing, friendly and enthusiastic about discussing an unfolding web of topics. We took turns back and forth validating and disclosing our stories, sharing interests, and waypoints. Tentative at first. A little deeper each swing.
I won’t go into details, because I have no consent to do so. I will just say our songlines were uncomfortably similar. Lives separated in privilege by one small degree of luck and two degrees of circumstance but held parallel by a hundred yards of prejudice and misguided assumptions. Even so, for whatever reason, and completely because of making an effort on his part, those lines converged for a brief few minutes of uplifting mutual recognition.
Every moment is a lesson if you pay attention to it.