Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ruthie On The Road, Update



My new Facebook friend, Anne, thought I was driving. She honestly thought I was. We exchanged messages tonight and she kept saying, "Drive Safe." I asked her if she realized that I'm hitchhiking. No, she didn't know...until I told her.

Let me try and put you all in the zone that I was in today:

COLD. That is the most outstanding part of the equation. Just. Very. Cold.

And how all of the people that passed by me, while I stood boot-deep in the snow, could ignore me, is beyond my comprehension.

But I'll start at the beginning...always a good choice, right?

I am in geographic transition, again. And in the State of Nebraska, I am banished to country roads. I shalt not attempt to hitch a ride anywhere near an Interstate.



I ate a good breakfast at McDonald's this morning and then took a taxi out to Wal-Mart. That big box of business is located at the very edge of the town that I left.

I had to watch my steps as I made my way across the vast parking lot. Patches of ice, covered the pavement, in places. And the fog nearly obliterated everything that was fifteen-feet in front of me.

But I had to go.

So, after I finally made it to the road, I put down my bag that contained my laptop and my meager stash of belongings. Then I turned back around and put my thumb out.

A guy who used to hitchhike and hop freight trains, pulled-up in his older vehicle and gave me a good ride to another highway. After he left, a big rig pulled up beside me.

The driver is from Romania and has been "driving truck" for over thirty-years. He told me that he is burned-out and tired of driving. I said, "Well, you ought to try traveling in my mode, then."

He pondered that as we approached a "drop-and-hook" area, that is situated between fields and in the middle of nowhere.

Rows of trailers, some old and some new, stood like rusted ghosts in that fog-filled lot. A young man, wearing a neon-yellow vest with the word "SECURITY" in big, black, block letters on the back appeared. He carried a clipboard and made it clear to all of the drivers, there, that in that mud hole, he calls the shots.

As I watched him, I was reminded again, that Nebraska is populated by too many crazy people.

The driver finally got rid of his trailer, drove me back to the main road and dropped ME off. There I stood, once again, on the shoulder of a lonely highway. But this time I got to watch cows.

A big, black bull stopped munching on the frozen cornstalks and stared at me. I "moo-ed" at him. He stood up straighter and snorted. Then he plodded over to the fence. I "moo-ed" at him again. He put his head down and glared. I did the same. And suddenly, it was on!

The theme from "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly" began to play...only this time it was done with fiddles.

I stomped one boot down on the weathered asphalt. The bull stomped his hoof. The bull shook its head in a menacing way. So I did the same.

Then a big truck carrying grain roared down the road, between us and the mood was broken. The bull went back to the silage and I went back to watching for traffic.

Finally, a woman drove up in a minivan and offered me a ride. I looked at the bull one last time and said, "See ya later, Buster Bull."

"Who are you talking to?" asked the lady.

"That bull back there," I answered, "we shared a moment."

She gave me an odd look and asked, "Just exactly how long have you been standing out there?"

She dropped me off near the edge of a whistle-stop town that didn't look right. It took me a few minutes, as I walked two more blocks to the "City Limits" sign, to realize what was wrong.

I didn't see one Christmas decoration, anywhere. It was like the Grinch had run through that community and stolen Christmas, all over again.

And that town is where I am now.

I haven't seen any holiday garlands on the light poles. I haven't seen festive paintings in the shop windows. I haven't seen one Christmas tree or a single, colored light.

And after what happened next, I am convinced that, for the most part, this is the land of people with hearts that are two-sizes too small.



I stood on the side of the road, alternating my stance between the snow and the mud, for hours...while every vehicle passed me by. The fog finally lifted into a grey sky but the kindness quotient never did.

It was if the entire population decided, as a group, to be totally asinine...and useless, to me. Meanwhile, my body got colder and colder and colder, until I was downright cold!

Finally, just as the grey day began to give way to the darkness of the night, a local cop rolled-up in his cruiser.

First, he drove me out to a truck stop by the Interstate (the wrong place for me to be, on several levels) and went in to discuss my situation with the truck stop management. When he returned, he explained that the manager would only allow me to stay there for half the night.

"Well, what am I going to do for the other half of the night?" I asked. My clothes were damp from drizzle and I was chilled to the bone. The prospect of warming up and then going back out into the cold, again, especially in the middle of the night, did NOT appeal to me.

And I told him so.

"You may as well drop me off back where you picked me up." I declared.

We looked at each other, much like that bull and I did.

I am now in a motel in this Grumpy Gulch and I will leave this town in the morning, if I have to walk out.

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