Hey, buddy, can you give me a lift



T. Michael Stone



I was heading to my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot the other day having just bought some shoe strings and a frozen pizza when I was approached by a young man who appeared slightly desperate.

“Sir, could you help me out?” he asked. “I need a ride back to the Relax Inn and I don’t have anyone to call.”

He said he had a couple of dollars.

I usually don’t like to be approached in this manner, but the dude wasn’t real big, and I figured I could handle him if he misbehaved.

So, I told him I could give him a ride as far as downtown Madison, but that I had frozen food I needed to get into the refrigerator.

As soon as I said it, I felt disingenuous. Would frozen food spoil between the bypass and downtown and back?

Not likely, but I figured that since I was under no obligation to haul him anywhere in the first place he should consider himself fortunate that I agreed to take him two miles.

We got into my classic Honda Accord LE and headed out onto Hwy 441.

He told me that he once had an LE himself, and we agreed that Honda makes some good cars.

“You dad gum right they do.”

He told me I was a God send, and I told him that I been called a lot of things but never a God send.

He insisted.

I’ve been down on my luck a time or to myself, and I started to feel ashamed that I wouldn’t haul him just one more mile up to the Relax Inn.

I did consider the possibility that armed thugs were waiting in the parking lot to rob me of the six dollars in my wallet, the shoe strings and a frozen Jack’s pizza.

But that seemed like something I had might have seen in a movie directed by Quentin Tarantino.

So, I relented as I passed the Chophouse and said, “Shoot, I’ll just give you a ride up there to the Relax Inn. Won’t take but a minute.”

More gratitude that was all out of proportion to my sacrifice was forthcoming.

He told me the Relax Inn was not luxurious but didn’t seem to have bed bugs or anything, just the kind of accommodations he needed.

I then learned that he was from Macon and that he had taken a job at a local manufacturing company.

He and his girlfriend had moved up to Madison and hoped to find a place to rent soon, possibly on Mapp Street.

I told him to stay clear of the Budget Inn if possible, and he said that his coworkers had told him the same thing.

I noticed that he was holding a cigarette in his hand as we drove. He seemed anxious to light it, but I wasn’t about to suggest that he do that.

I wondered how on Earth he was going to get himself situated, living in a motel and begging rides in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

After a few moments, we arrived at the Relax Inn and he saw his girlfriend in the parking lot.

Once again, he tried to give me his two dollars but I demurred.

I turned into the Relax Inn parking lot and he started to get out.

As he did, he said “oh no, she’s hit a car.”

I looked to my right and saw that someone in a blue car had backed into another car.

Good luck, bro, I thought.

I hope you get that sorted out.

I went home, cooked my pizza and watched the ball game.

I will probably never know the outcome of that young man’s gamble, to move to Madison and start a career with A girlfriend who obviously couldn’t drive a car very well.

But the world is full of people like that, people that we’d rather not trifle with, people who just need a ride for a few blocks or a handful of change to buy some comfort.



And here's your "hitchin' a ride" playlist.

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