“I never take hitchikers,” – she said – “never in my life.”
I just squeezed into a half-loaded small blue car, hurrying, before the street-light change.
“But today my neigbour saved me,” – she added – “when my car didn’t want to start. So I wanted also to help someone. At last, I am a Buddhist.”
She picked me up in the middle of Oldenburg, at the street lights leading to the highway ramp. Just after 8 pm, a very sympathetic German driver, speaking only veeery local German, dropped me at a spot where nobody would stop, shouted “gruss Gott” and disappeared.
No German town is a good place if you have a big chance to sleep on outdoor. And the ramp I was at was totally unfriendly. The only chance was the nearest crossroad, where designated lane led to the ramp. And – after 15 minutes of despair – a compact blond girl in a a compact car came to rescue me from a tight spot.
“My name is Maria” – she told me later – “I spent four years in the US” – she said when I mentioned that her English is absolutely not German.
We were driving just a few kilometres down the road – to get me out of the town and to drop me at the parking place by the highway. Staying on the highway is a matter of life or death for a hitch-hiker in Germany. “What is your occupation?” – I asked her. “I work in the maritime search and rescue organization.” – she answered.
Soon we stopped at the parking place. Before leaving, she gave me a bottle of water, a 5-euro note and warm good-bye. And she left me also with something much more essential.
Now, hear me loud and clear: search and rescue service is probably the most noble role humans can perform. Rescuers voluntarily risk their lives in the face of danger just to let other people survive and return home safely. As I was born and raised at the seaside (but only because of that), among all rescuers I especially respect and admire those of the sea. Listening to a young woman, telling me how they work, without getting a single Euro from the state (“because we do not want the government to tell us what and how to do“) I felt a surge of hope. As long as young, educated, efficient people keep joining the rescue service, it is not that bad with the humanity.
Perhaps we shall never see each other again, but I will always remember Maria, a sea rescuer.
The beautiful evening sun was shining and I still had like an hour or more to try my luck. I stood at the parking place, with my sign saying “Hamburg”, but my mind was wandering somewhere, where people help each other, even risking their lives.
Remember December of fifty-nine
The howling wind and driving rain
Remember the gallant men who drowned
On the lifeboat, Mona was her name
The wind did blow and the sea rose up
Beat the land with mighty waves
At Saint Andrew’s Bay, the light ship fought
The sea until her moorings gave
The captain signaled to the shore
“We must have help or we’ll go down”
From Broughty Ferry at 2 A.M.
They sent the lifeboat Mona out
Eight men formed that gallant crew
They set their boat against the main
The wind’s so hard and the sea’s so rough
We’ll never see land or home again
Three hours went by and the Mona called
The wind blows hard and the sea runs high
In the morning on Carnusty Beach
The Mona and her crew did lie
Five lay drowned in the Chalon there
Two were washed up on the shore
Eight men died when the boat capsized
And the eighth is lost forever more
Remember December of fifty-nine
The howling wind and the driving rain
The men who leave the land behind
And the men who never see land again.