Last weekend was our 13th Hugging session of 2017; a number that is amazing both because it’s far and away the most sessions we’ve done in any year (and it’s only mid-summer!) and because 13 is Mike’s lucky number! (nobody else wanted it 🙂 )
One of the things that continues to amaze us about living in Victoria is the generosity of the people who live here. In addition to our hugs we frequently assist tourists who are looking at maps or wandering around lost, and we’re not the only ones who do that. There’s much more though. For example, it’s a common practice here for those who have things they no longer want or need to leave them out at the sidewalk for someone else to take. This includes everything from books to clothes to household items to… It’s a warming sight in more ways than one to walk downtown in winter and see a coat, a scarf or a blanket lovingly folded and left on a bench for someone who needs it. This effect seems to rub off on visitors too. At our next to last hugging session we had a woman from the US ask us if we knew of anyone who wanted an almost new pair of women’s shoes. She knew she wasn’t going to wear them and wanted them put to good use. Our recommendation was to simply leave them on the railing at the Homecoming Memorial and someone would claim them. This she did, and by the next day they were gone.
We also had a young woman ask us if we wanted four free bus tickets (a $10 value). We’ve had people offer us money in the past; we always refuse and encourage them to give the money to someone who needs it. We offered the same advice to this young woman but it sat a little wrong with us. In hindsight we could have taken the tickets and left them at a bus shelter for someone to use. If the opportunity comes again that’s what we’ll do; we try to encourage random acts of kindness where we can. In the meantime, we wanted to say a special thanks to her for her generosity.
And, when we were most of the way home we had a young man come flying down the street behind us because he saw us downtown, didn’t have the opportunity to stop, and didn’t want to miss out on his hug a second time! It seems our phone-booth transformation back into an anonymous Victoria couple wasn’t as complete as we had expected. Special thanks to him as well. In the past 8 years we’ve hugged people from 58 countries, with Hugging Ambassadors from 28 countries so far this year alone! Every hug is unique and special for us.
Update (August 6): We went out for our 14th hugging session of the year yesterday, and when we arrived there was a young couple busking at the memorial. One man who was walking by stopped to talk to them, and as he left he placed a pair of nearly new men’s shoes in the guitar case as a donation. Strange enough on its own, but two pairs of shoes gifted in three weeks is beyond the norm, even for us! The second pair even came with socks!! 🙂