Friday, February 15, 2013

Date: Friday, February 15, 2014- Denver to Colorado Springs
Time: 7:30 a.m. off Lincoln Exit
Wait time: About 3 hours total
Hitcher (s): Denver police officer and man in mid forties
Profession: Police officer and CDL licensed driver

The Rocky Mountains are coated with a thin layer of powdery snow and the wind sweeps a brisk chill through the hills. I wait again at Lincoln exit after getting off work in the a.m., take the light rail as far south as is becoming my weekend routine to get to Colorado Springs. People zip by me on the way to work, somebody mouths “I can’t stop.” This is a metaphor for everyone maybe. Everybody has somewhere they have to be, and they don’t have any time for human interaction outside what is required of them. I can’t help but see a reflection of our culture’s values as I wait in the cold for a ride. It’s all about deadlines, comfort, complacency, and fear. I’m trying to be optimistic here, but for the most part, most people seem oblivious to their surroundings and unwilling, un-wanting to step out of their comfort zones; with a Starbucks coffee in one hand, cell phone or steering wheel in the other. Their minds are on constant autopilot in the as the morning haze parts way for the bull-headed, self-serving Rat Race. That’s with a capital R, at this day and age. The cogs are well lubed and the majority of the world is trapped inside it. We can’t see the rust forming on the bearings inside this cheap machine.

So I wait, 2 hours and counting, until the person I usually am least happy to see pull over does so; a Denver police cruiser. The guy is nice enough however, and I wave to him and we get off to a good start. The guy is just doing his job; I don’t blame him. He has to answer to the fearful public. The first thing the cop says is “sorry, there is no soliciting allowed.” I keep my mouth shut, but let’s take a look at what the true definition of solicitation is….

According to Wikipedia, the world solicitation means urgently asking. n criminal law, it most commonly refers to either the act of offering goods or services, or the act of attempting to purchase such goods or services. Legal status may be specific to the time and/or place where solicitation occurs.

I definately would not call my hitchhiking style urgent, as I’ve got a relaxed demeanor about myself. I’m not offering any goods or service; in fact, it’s just a genuine exchange between to human beings that could only better society in a small way.

So I silently call his bullshit to myself, but say nothing. He pats me down and asks if I am “carrying any weapons.” I laugh and tell him, “no man.” He does give me a ride to one of the Castle Rock exits, flooring it and reaching a speed of 90 mph. I read his computer and he has put my name in the computer as “soliciter.” I read that his cop friends are texting him on the computer and one tells him that he only picked me up because he “wanted an excuse to go to Sonic with the others.” He drops me off and tells me that this is the “best I could do.”

Thank you for the ride, sir. He almost forgets to give me my ID back and I remind him.

It isn’t long till after he has left that I realize he has left me at a horrible merge exit to hitch on. There is a blind curve and after that most cars are already reaching for high speeds before they ever get a chance to see me. Most people in this area are out and about shopping with the huge retail outlet that is off the exit.

About 45 minutes later, a man pulls over and says he is going to Colorado Springs. His name is Jason , and he is an incredibly interesting person that talks a lot about his son, who is very busy studying pre-med. There is a a Panama good-scent ornament draped over the rearview mirror, and he tells me his mother was from Panama, but he has never been. He grew up in a “nowhere town” with cows and farms in Illinois before moving to Colorado. He has lived here for some time, he says, and has his CDL. As we pass the mountainous scenery along I-25, he tells me that he used to own this route delivering for FedEx. Now he works part-time “driving water trucks.” Jason says that he really likes it, but it’s only downfall is that it is only part-time work. The pay is good.

We’re in the middle of talking about a variety of things, when Jason casually adds that he was once struck by lightning. He drops this remark casually, as if he were saying, “oh, it’s becoming a beautiful day outside”, which it is. I give him a look, and he smiles. “Seriously”, he tells me. ” I was coaching Little League for my son’s team.”

What did it feel like? ” I was basically dead, and it all happened so fast”, he says. “If it weren’t for the paramedics who revived me, I would not be here today.”

Just let that soak in. He wouldn’t be here. Maybe there was a reason I waited three hours for a ride today. I was supposed to meet this guy. No, not maybe. I was.

Jason is very grateful and happy to be alive. You can read the article that KKTV 11 wrote about him here:

Jason drops me off right at the doorstep, and I tell him it’s fine, either way and he just shrugs and says, “really, I’m in no rush.”

This guy has quite the story. Obviously, this unlikely event in his life has changed his outlook (as it would have to for anybody) and he has a positive outlook despite his stroke of bad luck.

It’s also an unlikely event that any of us our alive and even here, considering all the scientific and other variables beyond human understanding. So I want to ask people, if they knew they were going to struck by lightning tomorrow and die, as in this is it, it’s over, what would you do differently? Would you do anything differently? And if you did anything differently, why are you not doing it now considering that you really could die tomorrow, despite this kind of being a cliche in itself?

I find it somber at first, and then when you think about it a little deeper it becomes liberating.


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