Monday, January 2, 2013. Colorado Springs to Denver.
Wait: About 20 minutes from Uintah
Hitch: Man in his fifties, man in his early thirties
Profession: Hertz driver, Road side assistance
I wait at the Uintah exit for 20 minutes and it’s a clear day; sunny, not a cloud in the sky. I feel motivated with my Ipod on and listening contently to Joe Satriani’s wailing guitar. I can’t help but begin to wonder if anyone is actually going to pick me up. Cars zip by me. You get used to it after awhile.
An older brown van rolls up next to me. It’s an older man, and he’s got a nice smile on his face.
He walks over to the front of his van. Name’s Dave, he says. Shakes my hand. Here’s the deal, he explains. I’m heading just past Monument, so I could drop you off there. Not sure how much luck you will have from then on though.
Sure, I say. Sounds good. In the center console he has a book form the Pikes Peak Library. “The Eyes of Willie McGee.” It’s about an African American who was wrongfully accused of rape in the 1950s.
Coincidentally, today is Martin Luther King Day.
Dave takes off and he tells me he has worked for Hertz for 12 years and has enjoyed it.
It’s only part time, but works well for me, he says. Used to work for Wal-mart during the night shift, but it got to me after awhile.
His voice is kind, quiet, soft-spoken and somewhat gravel-y.
He drive me all the way past Monument exit and then drops me off on a side road off the shoulder of the highway.
I thank him and we exchange numbers and he says if I’m still there by the time he gets back, he’ll give me a ride the rest of the way in.
I wait for another 5 minutes, and a box truck that looks like an ambulance pulls to the shoulder of the road. At first I think maybe he is just pulling to the side of the road to wait for another call, when I notice the “Roadside Assistance” label on the panels of the vehicle.
Hop in!, says a guy presumably in his thirties, with a scraggly red beard, sunglasses and slightly yellow tainted teeth with a bright smile.
He introduces himself as Dillon. Did six years in the Coast Guard, he tells me. Loved that experience. Sometimes, we’d have to do tests where you would control a rope on a hook and have to maneuver it between boxes on the ship. There were other things, too. The whole experience was challenging.
He tells me about his boss, who has a rare disease ( which I forgot the name of unfortunately), where a part of your stomach actual falls asleep, similar to the pins and needles feeling of your leg’s blood circulation being cut off, except this feeling is incredibly painful.
It’s stupid, he tells me. Doctor had him on an assortment of so-called pain-relieving pharmaceuticals, costing him about $1500 a month, and they made him loopy, sometimes forgetting where he was.
Then he dropped the doctor’s drugs, started smoking some weed, and eventually, things go better, he tells me.
Dillon drops me off at the Lincoln stop and we wish each other luck, and once again I leave feeling pretty darn good about this human interaction.