People Lifer

John Scott

I tend to be an extrovert. However I can also be sort of a curmudgeonly, not overly friendly kind of guy when I am really focused, i.e. birding (or when I have not had my coffee). I am also not necessarily the most social fellow at caravan parks. The conversations there tend to be more sports and alcohol based, and as we know, I am into neither. I am not rude, but it doesn’t take long to get that I am not your typical man’s-man kind of man, and the footy chit-chat is going nowhere. And honestly, I am grateful that I am not.

Particularly in the birding world, I have made some life-long friends out here and I am truly grateful. These are “People Lifers.” Y’all know who y’all are. These are wonderful, funny, smart people with whom I do, and will continue to, keep in touch. Yes, and even a few non-birdy types are in there. My heart has countless rooms and I love it when someone slips into one of them. They fill a space that I did not know was empty, yet was all ready for their arrival. I am grateful for each and every one!

The other day at the Barkly Homestead campground a skinny, little, older guy in a big hat wandered over to say Howdy. I was not expecting to be chatting long. He looked like a real character. I like the “idea” of characters. God knows I am pretty much a character. Many of my friends could probably be described as characters. But the characters that one meets on the road can be a bit over done. Rather than just celebrating their uniqueness, sometimes they have become (in my opinion) a parody. They have become a caricature of their character. They have lost themselves performing this projection of their perception of themselves.

We had seen his Troopy parked behind us in the next row. It was a gorgeous 30 year old pop-top in that beautiful beige Troopcarrier color. It was a very cool vehicle. He had a personal license plate that read, Trakka. He introduced himself as Trakka, but quickly said, “John” as we shook hands. I liked him instantly. He was a genuine character, in his 70’s and traveling Oz alone in that old Troopy. We talked and I thoroughly enjoyed his company.
John and me at Barkly Homestead, NT. 
When I am talking with someone, I always try and make sure that I am really listening. That sounds simple, but sometimes during a conversation we are just waiting for our “turn” to talk. That is not really listening. John listened. He had a way of looking directly at me as I spoke, so that I knew he was listening and he understood. He would laugh easily and genuinely. He had a genuine “twinkle” in his eye. I find myself reusing the word “genuine” because he was one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He was as dinky-di an Aussie as one could be. He used the phrase “fair dinkum” naturally. He referred to some young backpacker girls as “Sheilas” without a trace of disrespect in his voice, or in the use of the word. I genuinely enjoyed him.

John will never read this blog. He has no computer, and get this, he has no mobile phone! Imagine traveling across the country alone without a mobile phone. He reads books. He sends his granddaughter postcards (as do I). He collects stuff. He travels from his home in the Gippsland area of Victoria north every year in the winter. All by himself. I like him and I admire him. John Scott, you are my friend and I am grateful. You are indeed a People Lifer for me. I have his landline number. I will call him sometime and I will go and visit. As I said, he is my friend. I am grateful.

Peace. Love. Birds.