The “High” way from Hico

As we left a friend’s house close to Hico late one night (around 11 p.m.), the weather was just plain nasty—cold, damp wind blowing, cloudy, foggy, with the temps in the mid 30s–one of those damp, bone chilling Texas winter nights that feels much colder than what the thermometer indicates. We pulled to the end of our friend’s driveway and considered which of the three or four routes to take home. All were roughly the same mileage and time. This night, we chose to take Hwy 6 part of the way, merely for the reason that we didn’t come in that way.

As we entered one of the stretches of the highway most void of houses, we saw an abandoned car on the side of the road. About a quarter of a mile further up, in our headlights, we saw a man walking. For a jacket, he was wearing only a light wind breaker. We noticed he also was not wearing any kind of hat. We stated, “I’ll bet he’s cold.” As we got closer to him, he stuck out his thumb. We pulled over just ahead of him and waited for him to catch up to us. He approached the passenger side. I rolled down the window and asked if that was his car a little ways back. He replied that it was. We asked him where he was going. He said he was staying at his brother’s place a few miles further up the road. His teeth were chattering and his face was rosy. He shivered as a gust of wind picked up.

Something about him seemed a little off, but we went ahead and offered him a ride. He said, “I’d love one. I’m frozen. I was just thinking about the couple of miles I have left to walk. I didn’t really want to bother anybody this time of night.” We said, “We’ll give you a ride.” We noticed that there was some kind of substance use going on here, but we couldn’t leave him stranded in the middle of nowhere. I said, “Sweetheart, why don’t you ride in the back seat, and let him sit up front. He might be more comfortable. And take your purse with you.” Without me having to say anything else, she understood exactly what I meant. We agreed that we did not want the unknown behind us. Hearing our discussion about Sarah moving to the back, the young man waited to get into the front of the cab.

No sooner had he gotten settled in the front seat when he was hit with the cheerful, welcoming words from my wife, “You smell like marijuana.” He shifted uncomfortably, and sheepishly said, “Yeah, that’s another reason I didn’t want to go to anyone’s house and ask for help.” My wife said, “Uh, huh. Why do you think I’m sitting behind you?” She let the uncomfortable silence hang. He said, “I’ll get out if you want. I’m sorry to disappoint you guys.”

We said, “No, we’ll get you where you need to go.” We asked him about his car, and he said that it just quit on him. We were amused by God’s sense of humor. This young man certainly did not need to be behind the wheel of a vehicle. His guardian angel must have pulled the plug. We also knew he didn’t need to be walking on a highway. As we started toward his brother’s house, he said, “It’s miserable out there. Nobody is on the road. What are ya’ll doing out?”

We said we had eaten at a friend’s house and decided to go home this way. He said he was thankful that we had chosen to go that way. We told him, “You should thank God. It was nothing intentional on our part.” He shifted again. “God, huh?” he said. “Do you think He looks out for people smoking dope…and doing other things? Like things I don’t think He approves of?” We said, “It looks like He did tonight. He sent you a ride.” He said, “Yeah, a ride I’m thankful for.” He pointed to the driveway we were coming up on and said, “That’s my mailbox, by the way. Just drop me off here. I’ll walk the rest of the way to the house. My brother might be kind of goofey.” I think that was his way of saying his brother might have his own similar Marijuana smell. We dropped him at the mailbox. He said, “Thanks again,” and we said, “No problem,” as he shut the door.

We are pretty sure that this young man knew that he was participating in some things that he knew were wrong. Hopefully, this experience will help him evaluate his future choices in life.

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