As the "Highwayman" -- "playing" on the local freeways -- I had made several "assists" this day -- ONE of them was on the I-8 WB between 70th St - Lake Murray and the College Ave exchanges.
I pulled up behind an older Datsun pickup on the RS and it was steaming. The gal had the hood up and had already located the problem - a small bypass hose had blown. Well, I carry bulk lengths of hose of that sort for situations like this so we proceeded to effect the repair together.
The shoulder on the road was wide and unobstructed so I pulled the rig up beside her truck for better access to my tools. She mentioned she had called her husband prior to my arrival.
As I got out from moving the rig, I glanced back up the road, and there, walking on the shoulder coming towards us, was a man who was a little shorter and a little stockier than I, with long hair, a mustache, dark complexion [ but not Hispanic ] and looked to be in his 40's, maybe.
As he came up to us, I asked the gal if she knew him but she didn't. At this point her husband arrived and I went to talk with the walker.
He asked me if I knew how to get to Las Vegas? I said, "Well, yes but I'm kinda busy right now. If you'll wait over there where it's safe, I'll talk to you in a couple of minutes."
I went back to work completing the repair with the help of the woman's husband -- filled the radiator -- ran the engine for a bit to check for leaks or overheat damage [ none luckily ] and instructed them how to "launch" safely back into the traffic flow -- [ both did ].
THEN -- I turned to the fellow who had waited patiently for my attention and noticed that he was carrying only a large, old fashioned, red Bible and a bottle of water and wore no jacket and only lightweight clothes.
He again stated that he needed to get to Las Vegas and could I get him there? I said that I could give him a lift off the freeway and to the train station. He said that he didn't have any money and showed me a wallet that had a Nevada ID in it and nothing else [ and NO -- I don't remember the name on it, but it WAS his picture ].
Well, to get him off the freeway and out of harm's way and a possible ticket from the CHP, I decided to give him a lift to a safer place.
As he got in next to Shela [ my search dog and "shotgun" rider ] she GRINNED at him and moved over without my having to tell her to.
He began to talk of his travels and having just come from Cuba as I "launched" back into traffic and tried to figure out what I was going to be able to do for him. I momentarily got the urge to TAKE him to Vegas before "sanity" returned and I figured to drop him at the Fairmont exit where he could walk safely.
But no -- he pointed to the 15 North exchange and said, "That's the way to Vegas, please".
So, I took the 15 North and swung off at Friar's Road and pulled to the curb where he could cross to the other side to catch a ride in the right direction safely.
As he got out of the rig, I handed him a McDonald's $5 gift certificate book, some of my "survival rations" from the rig's stock, and, as the skies were looking threatening, one of my "trash bag" ponchos I carry for accident victims.
As I turned to leave, he put down what he was carrying and reached out with both arms and hugged me and said, "Thank you, Thomas".
I hadn't told him my name!
I drove up the road to the first light [ short distance ] made a right to swing a u turn to come back and re-enter the freeway . He was GONE! He was only out of my sight for a moment as I turned.
THEN, I thought back to when I'd first seen him approaching us on the freeway shoulder. He HADN'T come from the 70th St - Lake Murray exchange because I'd have SEEN him as I passed, before I stopped to help the little lady!!
Got home, told the wife, she said "Tom, tomorrow's Easter."
Copyright © 2005 Thomas T. Highwayman