During my weeks in Perú and Bolivia, I met an eccentric European (German, I believe) who had been living for a decade or so in South America. For years he traveled exclusively via the comprehensive public transportation routes common to many Latin American countries. Aging, however, he grew to find the schedules and delays onerous, so he purchased a van. Having a revolutionary streak that required a justification for the acquisition, he gave lifts to anyone along his route in need. Luckily, the definition of “in need” was broad enough to include an American traveler whom he met at a budget hotel one morning.
During the three hours we spent on the road together, winding through remote mountains, houses sparsely strewn on hillsides and valleys, I observed again and again the country people he picked up prepare to pay him, only to discover (to their delight) that the ride was free. It was heart-warming to watch an act of generosity so appreciated, and the joy he took in sharing the good fortune of owning a vehicle.
The European postulated that the existence of conveniences such as cars would not continue much longer. With references to global warming and humanity's possible trajectory towards societal breakdown, he envisioned that soon the only people able to survive would be those who were close to self-sufficient. It would be people who lived far from cities, knew how to tend to crops and livestock, and subsist on very little… the very people to whom he was now giving rides!