Have you ever just wanted to stop what you’re doing, get up, walk out the door and just keep walking? I know I have. I’m not sure if that’s how it went for Hakim Maloum, but last year with just $217 in his pocket he left Union Square, New York, and began walking.

In his series, ‘Interviews 50 cents,’ NPR’s Alex Chadwick happened to meet Hakim Maloum on Venice Beach Boardwalk, Los Angeles, as the Algerian born resident of New Jersey had just come to the end of an epic walk across America. It was a journey of some 3300 miles that had taken the 31 year old five months and thirteen days to complete.

“I just packed a backpack and put it on my back.” Said Maloum who described himself as 45 pounds overweight at the time he left the east coast bound for the west coast. He had rules too. “I couldn’t ask for any help, including asking for food, water, money, nothing.” He explained, adding that he could ask for water if he hadn’t had any for two hours.

He wasn’t sponsored and didn’t have an organisation behind him, he was just a guy who decided to walk across the United States and rely simply on the kindness of strangers, eating meals with strangers, and staying in the homes of people he had only just met.

“It’s really amazing. The story is not about me but about the American people and how much help I got from them.” He told Alex Chadwick. “I knew people would help. I just didn’t know this magnitude.” He continued.

It wasn’t easy of course, walking across the entire stretch of the United States wouldn’t be. Along the way he was almost electrocuted by lightning in Texas, lost a brand new pair of shoes in knee-deep mud, got shot at by a some guy with a BB gun, and had a bottle of beer thrown at him. However, on his journey he experienced the magic of kindness. People he didn’t know gave him drinks, made him food, washed his clothes and gave him places to sleep.

He eventually arrived in California where he told Susan Derby, of the LA Times, that he hoped to get a job and maybe stay around for a couple of months to explore the place. After that he had no plans.

“If you really want to get up and do something you really could.” He told Alex Chadwick as they sat across a small table from one another that afternoon on Venice Beach Boardwalk. “Everything else is just excuses.”

There seems to be no information about what Hakim is doing now. Maybe he spent a few weeks checking out Los Angeles and now he’s walking back to New Jersey? Whatever he’s doing I hope and suspect he’s following his heart, after all, as he said “Everything else is just excuses.”

Hakim Maloum’s very long walk
Q&A with Hakim Maloum
Good magazine on ‘The Walk’
Well dressed wisdom
Crazy in love
Married five times