My South African friend Philip was travelling in America a few years ago when he was given the opportunity to show off his true character. Having never been before, he and his friend wanted to really savour the country, so rather than try to cram all of America into one holiday, they opted to explore their favourite state of California in depth.
Instead of booking every minute of their stay before they arrived, the boys decided to go with the flow, take their trip one step at a time and see where the metaphorical tides took them. They started with a festival in Monterrey and then headed up the coast, making their way towards San Francisco and Napa Valley at a leisurely pace.
They arrived in a quaint little town one afternoon with the intention of finding a place to stay. Only when they arrived, they discovered the town was hosting a Boy Scout convention and every room in town was already booked for the night. They found a tourists’ map and began scoping out the next town along the road in hopes of finding accommodation. As they stood studying the map, a kindly middle aged woman approached them.
“Can I help you boys find something?” It’s the sort of thing many Americans would do for a couple of lost-looking travellers. The guys explained their predicament and the lady came up with a wonderful suggestion.
“Now try this,” she said conspiratorially, as though imparting top secret information. “If you can find a place that has the internet – I think the library has computers and those computers have the internet on them – there’s this thing. It’s called The Google. You just go to the top of the internet and put in The Google and then this little box will pop up.”
At this point, she indicated a rectangular shape with her hands. “It usually has a picture on top of it and it says The Google, only sometimes it looks a little funny so watch for it. When that box comes up, you just type in the name of the town where you’re going and then the word hotel and a whole list of all the hotels in that town will come up. Now, that thing is called The Google – do you want me to write that down for you?”
As it turns out, the 25-year-old Philip was from South Africa but living in Abu Dhabi and working as an air host, so he was quite savvy when it came to travelling. Since it was 2009, he actually HAD heard of The Google before, but he was very gracious and accepted the lady’s help with gratitude.
“The Google! That’s a very interesting name!” he said, without one ounce of sarcasm, the sweetheart. Then, holding a completely straight and genuinely grateful expression, he added, “I’m pretty sure I’ll remember that. Thank you for your help!”
Love that guy!