A man who lived in a small village, up north of Scotland, found himself owning a small piece of land, after his great uncle died and left it to “whoever is next in line”.
For most of his life, the scottish man had been in solitude. School had been a torture growing up, for his thirteen classmates, who were also his neighbours, used every opportunity to make fun of his red skin. He had a genetic problem which made his skin get sun burnt just after five minutes of walking to the town centre.
His mother had this condition too, and her solution was to cover every part of her body with lace and silk and put copious amounts of make up on her face to look more presentable. To her son however, she said, “No one cares how a man looks, you just be grateful you have two legs, two arms and all the right face bits.”
After inheriting the land, which measured about two and a half acres, the man decided to keep the grass mowed frequently, level out a section to build some toilets and request for a permit to turn the land into a campsite. He would charge every vehicle fifteen pounds per night because that was what the next villages were doing and open a small grocery store selling junk food and alcohol.
The land came as a big break to this man, as he had always hated going to work as a roofer. Twenty years of working in the industry and still nothing to show for it. It was time he earned his pot of gold and finally buy the touring FLHR Road King he had always dreamt of and explore the routes of Wales and Scotland.
Two years passed and he made his fortune ten times over. He splurged on his harley davidson motorbike, a boat and even a caravan. But instead of exploring around like he wanted to, his favourite past time now was to sit on his porch and watch motorvans, campervans and touring cars with their trailers drive into his campsite. He took great joy in counting them and calculating how much he would earn for the night. From March to October he would see at least ten to twenty spots filled a night, his site being a popular destination because it was right infront of the sea, with a steady breeze to keep midges away.
Once, he had finished collecting the night’s fees and was just about to sit down on his armchair that overlooked the site, when he noticed a car park right outside of it. A couple sneaked into his toilets, and ran back into their cars even before he could stop them. The next day, he put up a sign that read “facilities for campsite patrons only”.
For the next few days he found more and more of these tourists who would come past 9pm, take advantage of his toilets and leave before he could get dressed to hurl at them. A paying patron told him that a popular camping website listed his site as a place with comfortable facilities, yet close to a pier down the road, where small cars could spend the night for free.
He felt a deep sense of injustice. He knew exactly where the pier was, abandoned and owned by the city council, out of his jurisdiction. How dare these hooligans make a fool of him! How dare they mock him on his own property. He got ready for the night. He was going to sit out in the campsite and be ready for when they come.
By 11pm, he was writhing in anger from the anticipation. A car with three passengers drove by and parked right outside, and the three of them blatantly strolled in with their towels and fresh clothing, completely complacent. He waited till they finished their showers and were reaching their car, before storming towards them to demand for payment. “Hey you! You think you can just come and use my facilities without paying? Where is my fifteen pounds!”
“Fifteen pounds for a shower? That’s ridiculous! The website said you were a reasonable, nice host. But I guess that’s only when you get to charge an exorbitant amount to use water that’s free anywhere else in this country.” One of the trio shouted back, unhappy with the angry scottish man’s tone.
“I only charge what everyone else does. I deserve this money.” He defended himself. “You’re nothing but a capitalist. An example of rats that the world is full of, another reason we need to tear cities down and ought to burn your campsite to the ground.” The tourist said, eerily calmly. Angry scottish man spotted a knife in the tourist’s right hand, and started feeling small. He backed away, and without saying anything else, walked back to his house, trying his best not to break into a run.
He was outnumbered, just as he always was with his classmates, him against the rest of the world. People who didn’t understand him, who didn’t try. People who didn’t care to know who he was beyond his red skin and burly demeanor. This was injustice done towards him.
For the next few weeks, he kept an eye on the many cars that came by to leech off him. They came confidently, unafraid of him. He backed down, knowing he was always going to be outnumbered. He felt diminished but could only huff and puff around the house indignantly. Sleep didn’t come well for those weeks, and he suffered a stuffiness in his chest that sometimes made eating unbearable. He grew angrier and angrier, and soon became known as the angry scottish man.
On a Thursday in the summer, the sun was still out at 9pm. Many of the paying patrons were having barbecues, making full use of the warm weather. He had already collected payment from all of them and was about to head home for a shower when a rented van crept slowly into the grounds and parked right infront of the bathrooms. A young couple looked around stealthily and even glanced at him, not knowing he was the owner of the establishment. He knew then, that they were one of them.
Today however, he had the backing of daylight. A courage in him surged up, perhaps due to the meek demeanor of this young foreign couple. He let them enter the toilets, and waited with baited breath.
From the corner of his eyes, he saw them walk timidly out of the showers. Now was his time. They were about to drive off, when he started toward them, talking himself up and letting an anger flush to his face. “I’m here to collect the parking fee,” he didn’t bother hiding his menacing tone.
“Oh…we…we weren’t intending to camp sir,” the male spoke softly. “Well then you shouldn’t have come into the campsite aye, didn’t you see the sign?” He bellowed at them. “On the website sir, it said….” The male tourist tried to explain but he couldn’t be bothered to hear them. “I DON’T CARE WHAT THE WEBSITE SAYS, WHAT USE ARE YOU TO ME IF YOU COME AND NOT PAY?”
“Sir, we did pay the 50p required to use the showers,” the male tourist retorted, maintaining a submissive tone that motivated the angry scottish man to behave even more aggressively. “Are you blind? Showers are for PAYING PATRONS. You should not have stepped into my grounds if you wanted to leech off me.” He felt his cheeks tremble as he shouted at them.
A silence ensued and out of nowhere, the female spoke. The angry man was expecting her to say more in their defense, his mind already thinking up more insults to hurl at them. Her voice was calm and steady. “Sir, you are right. If I were you, I would feel the same way too. It wasn’t right that we didn’t read your sign, and you must have been feeling taken advantage of by everyone who has come by to use your toilets without your permission. We are truly sorry.”
He heard her loud and clear and had to bite his tongue before he reacted. A little stunned by her words, he had to think now, how he was to respond. “Go! Get out of here now!” he said, not knowing why he felt stumped.
“Thank you sir, you’re very kind!” She says to him, with a smile so sincere and warm he felt all anger drain away from his face immediately. For a flash of a moment, he wanted her to stay. She was the first person in his life, who had ever looked past his red skin, past his rough exterior, and treated him as an equal. She heard him, and although he was loud and obnoxious, she acknowledged his point of view.
For days to come, he couldn’t understand why the girl could be this compassionate. He definitely could have been nicer towards them. His built-up anger was taken out on them, and yet it hardly seemed to make a dent in that girl’s spirit. It was a simple exchange between them, but one so profound it moved him greatly. Had he ever met anyone in his 45 years of life, who treated him with such respect? He was sad that he couldn’t think of not one person in his little village. It made him feel that his world was too small, that there might be others out there, beyond his comfortable hometown, others who, like the girl, could perhaps befriend him.
Her sincerity was haunting and addictive, and he wanted more of it. He wanted to find a soul out there who could make him feel something like that again. He wanted not to be an angry scottish man anymore.
The decision was made quite spontaneously. He was washing up dishes at the same exact time, 630pm, after eating the same thing he ate every Tuesday, a sausage roll with smoked salmon on the side. “I’m going to go see the world,” he thought to himself.
He made the arrangements for a neighbour to come and collect payment from patrons for him. “How long are you going away for?” His neighbour had asked. “I can’t honestly say I know,” he replied, after giving the question a serious thought. After all, this was his first adventure and he had not a clue how long these things took.
That Friday morning, bags ready to go, he put on his helmet and started the engine of his beautiful polished Harley. As he rode down his driveway, he passed his campsite and cruised away.
A new sign was put up that replaced the old one. “All are welcome to use our facilities.”