Normally I’d be surprised to learn that people who spent 8 days together on any kind of road trip would be able to refrain from killing each other, let alone be enthusiastic about meeting up on the regular. Not only are we still ‘keeping it social’, we’ve still got the spirit of that life-changing 8 day journey surging through our veins (and soon to be OUT of our veins, *cough* TBL Vampire day *cough*).
In what can be considered an extension to the random acts of kindness we performed in Brisbane this year, where free compliments, free seats, free songs and free jokes were just some of the flavours (along with some chunky monkey Ben and Jerry's), it’s almost hard to believe we left out free hugs. Terrific Tuan was right on it though, when he decided to TBLectrify a "Free Hugs @ pitt st mall" event.
In true Nye fashion, I showed up without cardboard for my free hugs sign, or any kind of writing implement. Luckily for me, this event officially became serious business when none other than professional hugger (prugger?) Aaron Ngan showed up - and I thought I was a hug enthusiast! This guy takes the cake. He had spare cardboard and paint for everyone’s signs. This is one of his favourite quotes:
“We need 4 hugs a day to survive, we need 8 hugs a day to function and we need 12 hugs a day to grow.”
Before we’d even completed the signs, the more curious huggables who had worked out what we were doing were approaching us and requesting their prize! It was destined to be a day of TBL proportions. We recruited an enthusiastic girl right off the street. Huggee becomes hugger. Amazing!
As with most TBL activities, mastering the art of the free hug involves overcoming large amounts of initial awkwardness. I set out and asked a few people meekly, “...free hug?” and shook my sign at them. Most would simply avoid eye contact and dart away. “Good, I didn’t want to hug that person anyway..” I’d tell myself in order to soften the sheer brutal rejection. You’d get the occasional person who said yes though, and then your spirits would be lifted again, ready to handle the next 10 rejections. As time went on, the way to do things became more apparent. - just make eye contact, hold it and smile. If they evade you, take a goofy step into their line of sight. This is how you get a smile, and once you’ve got the smile, the rest is easy! At least 50%* of smiley people will accept the free hug (*not statistically proven). Even if they didn’t accept, they smiled, and likely so did you -a job well done, you brightened their day. Sophie proved that music increases hug rate significantly, rocking around the place with her iSpeakers blaring and out-hugging the best of us.
There were some people so enthusiastic to hug, they were practically busting at the seams. One voluptuous red-headed lady systematically hugged almost everyone offering and there were mobs of students from America and France that were more than excited to be involved. An impromptu flash-mob of huggers piqued the crowds interest, making hugging all the more easy.
After everyone had hugged it out, it was off to Star Bar for a hard-earned lunch with plenty of reflection. Some additional TBLers joined the festivities which lead into the evening (Harry Potter, Galaxy World, Japanese for dinner, etc.). As usual, no one wanted to say goodbye. I had suspected that the TBL virus had infected people, but on this day I truly saw the symptoms. Everyone is burning up with TBL fever, and it’s not about to break!
By Nye Richards