I’m back! I’m back! What? You didn’t even know I was gone. I always feel like those state employees must feel when, during a winter storm, the radio announcer says, “Non-essential employees do not need to work today.” I hate being a non-essential employee. But, I’m getting used to it.
I suppose you are wondering where I was. I had to haul a load of oil field stuff to Texas. Now, I’m not really a trucker. You can ask the guy at the scale in Oklahoma. He will vouch for me. I just hate it when you stop on the scale and the red light comes on and a booming voice says, “Park your vehicle and bring your truck papers inside!” It really hurts when you don’t have truck papers.
But, I will tell you one guy that was happy I was on the road. You know I have a problem. I’ve told you of it before. I pick up hitchhikers. I’ve heard stories of people that picked up like Howard Hughes, or Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet, and then, these guys were so impressed with the kind gesture, they went into the local bank and paid off all your bank notes! So far, it hasn’t worked out like that. Usually cost me ten or twenty bucks and some conversation.
Anyway, I pick up this guy south of Fargo. He’s kind of your typical hitcher, a little rumpled from sleeping under bridges, gray beard that could use a trim, and carrying a sleeping bag, and a sack of clothes.
As we visit, I wonder what he was doing in Fargo. Well, turns out he just ended up there. Was on his way to Bakersfield, Calif., from Washington state. That’s right. Washington state. Fargo was really not listed on his original itinerary. But, David said he was having trouble catching a ride south, so he just took the first ride he could. Went over the Rock to Butte, Mont. Then, again having trouble going south kept going east. Most hitchers have a lot of time, albeit a poor sense of direction.
That first night, I ended up in southern Iowa. Bought my co-pilot a burger and was going to get a room. David took his bags and was trudging across the parking lot, and I asked where he was going to sleep. “Under that bridge.”
All right. I know it wasn’t wise, but I said, “Dangit (not exactly), you can stay with me.”
We went in the motel and I asked for a non-smoking room with two beds. “Non-available.”
“A smoking room with two beds?”
“A single room with a rollaway?”
I looked at my bearded friend and said, “Partner, I ain’t liking this deal too much.”
He said he could sleep on the floor.
The clerk said he had a room with a recliner.
I took it.
All in all it wasn’t too bad a night. I laid there with my eyes wide open listening to a bearded stranger snore. Whenever he paused, I closed my fist, ready to fight for my life.
I was starting to remember what Jeff said. “One of these days, one of those guys is going to look at you and see a month-long meal!”
But I made it. Got the old boy (ten years younger than me) to Oklahoma City. Let him off three miles from the junction where he wanted out. Got chewed out for not getting him where he wanted to be. Nine hundred miles, a room, and three meals from where I picked him up! I guess it wasn’t Warren Buffet!