Here is a true story for your entertainment.
A Little Bit Further Up On Down The Road
It was on my cross-country hitchhiking trip that I found myself in the beloved state of West Virginia. I was literally in the middle of nowhere. It was summer and the countryside was alive with nature’s lushness. Green trees full of beauty were everywhere to be found. On the road that curved through the hills, I would encounter small towns. The towns were so tiny that it took less than two minutes to walk through them.
Years later I would meet a very plump and pleasant woman named Sharon. She was in my creative writing class. She would write stories and poetry about her experience growing up in West Virginia. Eleanor Roosevelt had a big influence in the area getting these towns to do crafts. Sharon had a nickname that everybody from her minute town would recognize right away. Like all the people I met from West Virginia, she was pleasant and nice. I can readily agree with John Denver when he calls West Virginia “Almost Heaven”.
I remember one day I was walking through a tiny town. I was tired and I spotted a Church of Christ building. It was little more than a wooden shack. I wanted to sleep so I just lied down on the porch and used my sleeping bag as a pillow. It was next to a school and the janitor spotted me. He came over and woke me up asking if I was alright. I told him I was and I got up and went walking on. In New York City I could have gotten arrested for such activity. Guess I was as strange to the man as he was to me.
It was around one of these towns that an elderly gentleman saw my extended thumb and pulled over to give me a ride. Upon my entering his car, he warmly greeted me. His accent was the strongest and most foreign I have ever experienced. If I hadn’t known better I would have thought that I had left the United States. Doug, a friend of mine who is a native of West Virginia claims that it is I who has the accent. But I believe even Doug would classify this man as having an accent.
The man was kind and talkative. The two of us rode together for over an hour. I always enjoyed long rides. I had no particular place to go and no schedule to keep but long rides gave me the impression I was getting somewhere. When I spoke to the man I tried to imitate his intense dialect. I must have been successful or the man may have been just too kind to expose my ruse. I recall the words of caution as I left his care. “This here is city folk around here. City folk are nice but not like us country folk. It’ll be hard to get a ride around here. So to help you out, I took you a little farther up on down the road.”
After the ride, it was only a matter of moments until I got a new ride. The man who picked me up was definitely not from the back woods; he was a genuine city slicker. He was dressed in a suit and tie for one thing. His speech had a slight color to it but he could have spoken with that accent in my native New Jersey and not drawn any attention.
This man too drove me for about an hour. Then as he dropped me off he had these words for me. “This here is country folk, country folk are nice but not like us city folk. It’ll be hard for you to get a ride around here. So to help you out, I took you a little farther up on down the road.”
Country and city, black and white, rich and poor, crazy and sane, I’ve seen them all in my years. Kindness is not restricted but is prevalent throughout society. Unfortunately so is wickedness. But this I know, when you reach an impasse you can count on God to take you a little bit further up on down the road. The question is “Do you have the courage to accept the ride?”
Read more of my stories in my memoirs “More Than The Madness”
Photos by garlandcannon,