1.8. Rest Stop Reverie

It is noon on the first day of November at an Interstate rest area near Eugene Oregon.  On this gray day I did not crawl from my warm blanket cocoon until eight a.m.  I am getting more oblivious to the steady moan of gray traffic sounds at the rest areas just a hundred yards from the interstates.  I had only five minutes of diesel engine clatter last night before the driver shut down his engine and crawled into the cabin built into his big rig.

Here I have kicked back to munch on the memory fragments of the last few days at the rally of the North West Trek Fun Club and to work on the drafts of the articles I’d started.  I am ready to post “My First Rally” to my blog as soon as I can get to a decent internet connection.  And, The King of the Bookdockers, now in second draft destined for submission to an RV travel magazine.

I walked to the rest room, it is tidy as they all seem to be at the rest stops in Oregon.

Without staring I passed a man standing with a large sign on yellow pasteboard.  “Lost job.  Need Help.  Anything”. At the curb was a mini-motorhome built on a19’ Toyota chassis that appeared to be about 25-30 years old with New Hampshire plates.  Another large yellow sign pleading for help.   This sign added, “God Bless.”

On my way out of the bathroom a woman handed him an energy bar and I noticed a small box that had accumulated 40-50 brown and silver coins.  He wore a jacket with a patch that said “United States Navy”.  He was stocky, and healthy-looking except for his gray skin, gray hair, and gray demeanor.

I walked back to my coach and made a CARE package of rolls and cream cheese, a can of soup, and one of salmon, a few hot dogs from my freezer, and some of my stash of energy bars, and a piece of roast beef leftover from last night’s BBQ.

I took the small box to him and put it in his hand.  His face expressionless, our eyes froze the moment.

“God bless,” he said.

I thought about engaging him but I was not of a mind to ask the intrusive questions necessary to draw out his story.  This man is part of America, too.  The America Steinbeck went in search of 50 years ago and which I, too, feel a gentle yearning to connect to.  People like him are only one of my agendas for this chapter of my life.

I came back to my motorhome thankful for my roof on wheels. I opened my laptop to peck out these notes.  After a bit, I noticed a man get out of his faded red and white Dodge Ram pickup truck with a brown paper bag.  Blue jeans, suspenders, a bit of a gut, a goatee, and an expression that seemed angry at first but them I decided it was just a Don’t Mess With Me Look.  He carried the bag to the needy man and I watched them speak for a few minutes before each went back to the next minute of their separate lives.

There will be no shortage of people for me to meet in the next year and those who are down on their luck are ever more evidenced in our landscape.  Next time I may be more in the mood to invade their life and pull out their stories, if they are inclined to give me for the small payment of five bucks worth of groceries.

Out my window I watch a state employee leaf-blowing acres of grassy tree-lined meadow.  I am glad he has a job, even one that requires he wear protective plastic earmuffs, and spend precious gasoline to blow leaves as though someone is unaware that dropping leaves is what trees do.

After a hour of reverie, it is time to move on.  In the last hour big rigs have moved tens of millions of dollars worth of cargo through the rest stop.  Two 42-foot motorhomes are shuffled into the line of pull through spaces.  They look like they’d tip the scales at $300-500,000.00

I tidy up and take out my trash and stop to look at a small trailer from British Columbia, a pleasant, tidy rig even more modest than mine.  As I walked around the rig a couple of times one of the one of the motorhomes pulls out and as it passes me, the driver tips his hat to me.

Posted on Wednesday, November 3rd.  Lake Creek Oregon.

8 Responses to 1.8. Rest Stop Reverie

  1. Pingback: Welcome | AL's Blog

  2. Colleen Rae says:

    Al – this vignette choked me up. You do know how to tug at the heart strings with words. This was a lovely act of human kindness. We ARE our brothers keepers in any way we can manage to help. Thanks for being such a lovely human being.
    Colleen

  3. April Edsberg says:

    Al,
    This writing is so well written. I’m getting to know you through your blog.
    God bless you on your journey.
    April Edsberg

  4. Michael and Marsha Joyce says:

    When we met, you under played your ability and desire to share your hearts experiences. Keep writing. It is giving us unique human value.

    What are thinking now for direction as it cools. You mentioned Quartzite AZ, where the term “down home” could have originated for live-in RVers. You’ll find bbq sold from an old trailer, an enjoyable used book store under make shift roofing with a totally bare assed proprietor, and acre or more of collected rocks, and CHARACTERS!

    As you plans come clearer let us know, we are heading that way probably after Thanksgiving in Colorado.

    Michael and Marsha

  5. Al, I am traveling with you and visualizing the things you see. I was never here during the Great American Depression, but your stories bring to life that era. I believe that these hard-luck people will continue eating because of souls like you and that hard-faced man.

  6. I trust you’re collecting these stories and filing them away for later inclusion in a novel–ala Steinbeck. You’ve got that elusive “it”, Al.
    You’re in Oregon, not that far from Montana. If you do decide to head northeast, I’m curious about the history of Fort Assiniboine (in Montana). A Buffalo Soldier unit was stationed there at the turn of the twentieth century–(24th Infantry, Company E). I’m wondering if there are any descendants of those black soldiers still in the area.
    My own grandfather settled in Montana after his discharge from that very same unit, but he moved to Livingston when the Union Pacific Railroad opened its new railway station. History and characters abound.
    Keep up the driving and the blogging. I’m enjoying it.

  7. Barbara says:

    I’m hooked on your blog – looking forward to your next entry!

    Barbara

  8. Lisa Levenson says:

    I am showing a video of a child prodigy: Alexandra Nechita who was born in Rumania and waited 2 yrs w/ mom before joining father in USA. She is currently 25 and been to UCLA. On the video she says she’d rather be appreciated than admired…
    I’m thinking that is perhaps a universal statement….
    No matter how down & out or what issues fill our lives we ALL continue to require a little appreciation! Admiration seems to make a person public property. Privacy is something being chipped at by everyone, everything, everywhere. How do we appreciate those who have little to give? How do they see what, they too, can GIVE?
    When do we begin to speak more about what we appreciate than what is UNappreciated???I know it does not happen enuf in the world of education!
    I appreciate my uncle’s observations and visits as I face the same folks and issues, near daily….Love & happy trails ’til the January AZ visit.-LL

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