I so wish I’d had the presence of mind to have snapped a picture of this kid with a raccoon pelt in his hand. (The pelt was complete with the ‘coon’s noggin.) It was, without a doubt, the most surreal part of the entire ride. If I think about it, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a more surreal moment in my entire life.
Last night I was asked, “How old was he?” They heard “kid” and assumed I was talking about a 7 or 8 year old boy. No, this one was at least driving age. I’m guessing 16 or 17, but surely no older than that.
After the kid and his coon pelt had gone on back to their house:
I set about making myself comfortable. I had a blanket. I had a “pillow” in the form of my tent. I had more comfortable clothes and shoes to change into.
I also had a warm day, with a very pleasant breeze blowing my way:
And to keep from getting bored, I also had my iPad. Though I had no internet connection, I have all my music stored on it, many movies, lots of magazines, games . . . and books:
But in addition to all of that, I also had an audience:
At some point waiting on the Calvary Cavalry to arrive, I ran out of water. While it wasn’t a scorcher of a day, it still was plenty warm.
Coon Boy’s house was the only one around. He and his accomplice (a Beavis and Butthead combo if there ever was one) had taken off in a work truck. I grabbed my water bottle and walked up to the house. Knocked on the door. No answer. Walked around to the side of the place and found a hose. Never did find the end of the hose, but I turned it on anyway figuring water would come out somewhere. (Am I a mental giant or what?)
After a half minute or so with no sign of water, I turned the spigot back off. Stood up and looked around. Noticed there was a white pick up truck across the road with two people in it. They were eyeballing me. I left the side of the house and walked up to the driveway as the pick up pulled into the driveway.
The truck had a man and a woman inside. In light of what I’m going to say in a couple of minutes, this thought seems uncharitable, but as they pulled up and looked at me (understandably warily), this is the first thought that popped into my mind:
I held up my hand as we got close. Gave them my name. Then held up my water bottle. “Hi, I’m Ray. Do you live here?” The fella driving the truck said he didn’t. Then asked, “Can I help you?”
Shaking my water bottle, I said, “I’m broke down.” I pointed over to the bike in the corner of the yard. “I was just looking for some water.” They glanced over at the bike, the blanket, all my gear strewn around.
“We don’t live here. We’re just feeding the cows until they get home,” the man said.
I told them I’d encountered the son who lived there. “Naw,” she spoke up for the first time, “that’s their grandson. He’s supposed to be feeding the hawgs.”
We chit-chatted for a couple of minutes. They told me that the outside spigot didn’t work, but they’d be glad to go fetch me a bottle of water from their home.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. I’m a poor recipient of assistance. I always do my best to be self-sufficient. It really goes against the very grain of my being to ask for help.
But here these two wonderful people, salt of the earth folks, who were willing to fetch a stranger — who was, let’s be honest, trespassing on the property they were “in charge” of — a ration of water.
I told them to please not go out of their way. I was completely grateful for their offer, but it was unnecessary. My ride was going to be there shortly and I’d be fine. The lady in the truck said it was no bother at all. She hiked her thumb over at the man and said, “He’s been stuck and broke down before and has been without water. We know what it’s like.” They assured me they didn’t live far away. With that, they drove off.
Within five minutes, back they came with an ice cold bottle of water. That might have just been the best tasting bottle of water I ever drank. They were curious about my ride. They seemed incredulous that anyone would do such a thing. They looked at me as if I were a daft eccentric relative from a distant part of the family. Like they had to deal with me if I showed up on their doorstep (“Hey, Myrtle, put out another plate, Uncle Rufus is standing out here in the rain with his tricycle,”) but for the most part, I was from the crazy, unproductive part of the family.
They listened to my stories, about being caught in the rain, the flats, the people I’d met. I’m a good enough story teller that I think I kept their interest. Maybe I was just entertainment for them. A break in the day of cattle and hawg feeding. Some harmless oddity that they had nothing in common with. After my stories were done, I’m sure their attitude was, “Well, that’s interesting, but we have work to get to.”
I have a very warm spot in my heart for the entire city of Indianapolis based on a motorcycle adventure I had on a rainy Fourth of July weekend back in the 80s. A man — Robert Smith, a UPS delivery fellow — rescued me from my own stupidity. I’ve since then tipped my hat to the man every time I’ve come near / hear about Indy.
From this point forward, I’ll feel the same about Cardington, Ohio, and the very wonderful people there who helped out a stranger.