The Hitchhiker

If you know us, most of the time we are together. This is one of those times when we were not. I had left Brownwood coming back home down 377/67. Just as I left the city limits of Early, I saw a man walking on the side of the road. A thought went through my mind that I should pick him up, but I had things to do and squelched that urge. As I approached the man, he stuck out his thumb. I kept rolling toward my destination while fighting harder to squelch the feeling that I was supposed to pick him up. The further I drove, the stronger that feeling became. I made it all the way to Blanket where I pulled over. I said, “Fine! I’ll go back and pick him up,” all the while really hoping he was gone.

As I headed back toward Early, I saw the man on the other side of the highway. I turned around and pulled up alongside of him. Through the open passenger window, I said, “You need a ride?” He said, “I sure do. I was just praying to God for one to come along.” I said, half laughing, “Well, He sent you one.” As the man got in, I asked him where he was going. He said, “Dallas.” I said, “I’ll get you as far as Comanche.” I relayed to him the story of how I could not leave him on the road and had to turn around and go back to get him. He laughed and said, “Yeah, picking up hitchhikers can be a bad deal. There’s bad people out there. You never know what you are going to get.” I said, “True. What’s your story? I can tell you’re not from around here.”

He said, “True, I just got out of the half-way house in Brownwood. I did a little bit of time for selling drugs. The money was too appealing. It’s crazy how this legal system works.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, when I got out of prison, they put me on a bus and shipped me to Brownwood. I did not want to fall back into my old ways, and I lined up a job for when I was released from the half-way house. I’m supposed to start my job tomorrow. Today when I was released, I went to buy a bus ticket to Dallas. I have money but they would not sell me a bus ticket without a photo I.D. I told the bus terminal worker that I had been brought down from Dallas without a photo I.D. He said it was out of his hands, and he couldn’t sell me a ticket. I inquired about getting a photo I.D. and they said it might take a few days because I had nothing to prove who I was. I didn’t want to miss my first day of work, so I decided to start walking. Maybe I could catch a ride.”

As I listened to his story and watched the puzzled look on his face, I had to agree that it sounded kind of messed up. As we approached Comanche, I told him that I could go home another way and could take him as far as Dublin. I was really considering calling my wife and telling her I was going to take him to Dallas. He said, “I think if I get to Dublin, I can get a ride from there.” I said, “Well, I need to get diesel, so I’ll drop you off at Allsup’s when I do.” He said, “I’ll pay for your diesel. Like I said, I’ve got money, and I appreciate the ride. I made better time than I would have walking.” I said, “There’s no need for that. Keep your money. You can give it to the next guy who gives you a ride.”

He said, “I know God has a ride for me here. I know it. I’ll be in Dallas before long. I’ll be okay.” He said he was going to go to the restroom. As I finished filling up my truck, I noticed him walking back with two sodas in his hand and a ten dollar bill. I said, “Thanks for the Coke. I’ll take it. But, you keep the $10.” This man was happy and cheerful. Never once had he complained or blamed anyone else for his predicament in life. Even though we both agreed that the bus ticket/photo I.D. thing was kind of crazy, he said, “It is what it is.” As I waited at the intersection to pull back onto the highway, I couldn’t help but notice in my rearview mirror him getting into an 18-wheeler. I had just dropped him off. He said he knew that God had prepared a ride for him there. It left me with a really strange feeling. He had immediately gotten a ride, almost as if it had been lined up before we got there.

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