November 18, 2009



Well, safely back at home. For a short while. Last week, I was writing from Connecticut. When we got home, I had to haul a load of oil field stuff to Oklahoma City. Today, I have to go to Casper. Over the years, Shirley has gotten pretty darn good at getting things fed. I’ll guarantee you one thing, the horses are glad I’m gone and she is at home.
On every journey, you can usually drum up a story. Some involve being dumb. Some luck. Some boredom.
I’ve told you before that I pick up hitchhikers. That is how I met Shirley. No, not really. But it would have made a heck of a story.
Anyway, I’m on the way back from Oklahoma City. Had left Salina, Kan., early in the morning and was pushing hard to be home that night. Driven by a corn harvest in full swing.  Through the Sandhills of Nebraska, across the Niobrara, and headed north from Valentine. Had nearly six hundred miles under my belt when I saw this guy thumbing just outside Mission, S.D.
Being the nice guy that I am, and needing a story, I pulled over and waved him in. He was happy to get a ride, happy to share my iced tea, and happy to share a piece of jerky that I was saving for my dog. But, I figured it was close to Thanksgiving, so what the heck.
Well, this guy jumps in and he’s sweating. He’s been running. With a winter coat on and carrying a suitcase. I think about it and I decide I’d better ask if he’s running to something, or away from something.
“I’ve got to get home to White River,” he explains. “Right away!”
I could sense this was some kind of emergency, so I picked up a couple of  miles per hour and started passing a few of the people that had driven by him. He really enjoyed that.
The guy was good to visit with. Explained how he had worked at one job for over three years. Had a wife at home in White  River, and he was anxious to see her. She was the reason he was in a hurry. Missing Shirley, I knew how he felt, and I picked up a couple more miles per hour.
He went on to explain that he had been staying with his aunt, but his mother had called this morning and said he had better get home. It was his wife. That made me more nervous, and I picked her up another couple mph. We were flying right along. The first time I had sped in three days of steady driving!
I asked what was wrong with his wife. He went on to explain that his wife had written him a letter. His mother said it was an official-looking letter, and she figured his wife was going to divorce him! So he had to hurry home.
When I inquired, “Why would she do a thing like that, when she should know you were hurrying home?”
“Well,” he explained, “It’s because I fell off the wagon and left.”
I thought hard and long about this, and finally replied. “That’s too bad, but maybe when you hurry home like this, and she sees your concern, and you explain that you’re trying, she will give you another chance.”
But curious, I had to ask, “How long you been gone?”
He thought a minute and then sincerely answered, “ I left in early July. That’s why I’m in such a hurry.”
Being it was now the middle of November, I said, “Maybe you should have started hurrying a few months earlier!” And I let the Dodge back down to the speed limit for the rest of the trip.
And I will guarantee you one thing; I didn’t go up to the house with him. Although he kind of wanted a three- hundred-pound bodyguard.