I had already tried to hitchhike north out of Madras and failed. So I decided to
try my luck and head back down South, again. I thought that I would track all
of the way back to the nice couple and the little church among the pines.
What else could I do?
I walked a long way, to the point where my feet were dragging, sore and
tired before I finally sat down.
I found the right spot.
A few minutes later a young man pulled up in a little pickup truck. His name
is Trent and he is in his early twenties.
Trent may very well be the only decent soul in Madras but one of the first
things he said to me when he walked up was, "I hate Madras, too."
Trent drove me to a gas station, fueled-up his truck, bought me some hot
coffee and pizza and then started driving. We parked in a quiet area and
talked non-stop for the next four hours.
I told him that I really needed to travel 100 miles north to The Dalles. He
agreed and turned his truck around.
We continued our conversation for the next two hours as we rolled up that
long stretch of highway in Oregon's high-desert outback.
But when we reached The Dalles, the lady said that the winter shelter
would not be open that night.
The sun was already fading into a bank of dark, night clouds when Trent
dropped me off on the overpass bridge by the last on ramp that meets
I-84 and the path to Hood River, Oregon.
Trent had done all that he could do and had to use the rest of his gas to
return south. I thanked him and bravely waved goodbye as his little pickup
disappeared down the eastbound ramp.
Then, I sat down on my backpack, next to the ramp that heads west and
thought about my day.
Night covered The Dalles, the lights came on and I tried to hitchhike to
the shelter that I knew had just opened again for the winter months, in
But nobody stopped.
Then it began to rain. And it rained harder and harder and harder.
I took out my thin little blanket and pulled it around me. I couldn't stop
shivering. It was wrong for everyone to pass by and leave me shivering in
the cold November rain. It was just wrong.
And I will stand on that truth forever.
As I sat there I thought about the preacher and his kind wife that I met
in that little village. And I am sure that they never would have left me
sitting in a puddle of rain on that cold, concrete bridge.
No, they wouldn't have done that.
I know that Trent will read this and he will be more than disappointed by
what ended up happening.
But he will be happy to know that eventually, God's angels stepped in.
And one of them brought me another blanket, her cell phone and
a McDonald's hot apple pie.
She talked on her phone to her friend...who started reaching other
people. And then a young Hispanic man stopped his racy, red car and drove me to the door of the winter shelter in Hood River.
And when I walked into that church, I saw the real smiles again.
My question now is: How much did it really cost those who finally helped me?
How much did it really cost anybody?