GEORGE AND GEORGE
After escorting me out into a hallway, the campus police demanded some ID, asked me all the pertinent questions and gave me the appropriate lecture. I was then taken out to their vehicle and driven to the university exit. They were nice but firm and in answer to my request told how to get to an entrance ramp to Interstate ten.
Directly across from the entrance ramp to the interstate was a brightly lit gas station where I hit a vending machine for an overdue meal. I was thankful it was an all night station and the attendant was a jovial person who loved to talk, so we talked. I was also very thankful that he was a thoughtful, aware person who, after several minutes of conversation offered me the camper, parked beside the station, to get some sleep in.
When I Stuck my nose out of the camper the next morning it was a bright new day and I felt rested. The man who had been so generous with the camper had apparently gone home and a somewhat gruff acting guy greeted me with, “hope you slept good; the interstate ramp’s right over there.” I pushed my luck and ask to use the bathroom and with a nod, he consented.
I surveyed the twenty or so men and young women lining the ramp to the interstate as I slowly crossed the road. I didn’t know what to make of this picture at first, but slowly grasped that there was an interstate etiquette for me to learn. I spoke to my fellow travelers as I approached and they, with their facial expressions and body language, indicated the rules. I, of course, spoke again, grinned and complied. The prime spot was right at the entrance to the ramp and of course, the real estate was deemed less valuable as you moved up the ramp to the top of the line which was the end of the line.
At the end of the line, I met George and George; two hapless looking characters who by their body language was struggling with their lot in life. I offered the brightest smile I had and swapped names and brief histories with them. They had a tale of woe that was both sad and fairly comical: they were both from Detroit Michigan but had met on the road as strangers. They said they’d been stuck in Tucson for over a month even though they’d made many efforts to leave.
They said they’d been thumbing on every interstate ramp in Tucson but if they got a ride they wouldn’t get far before they’d get dropped off; then because the cops would get them for thumbing right on the interstate they’d have to come back to Tucson. The truckers wouldn’t even talk to them at the truck stop they said shaking their heads. Even more mournfully, they related trying to be Hobos but jumped on a train that took them the wrong way; ending up in a little town south of Tucson. They had to walk back because they couldn’t get a ride. With that one, I had to hide my laughter with some fake coughing. With all their failures to even get started on their way back to Detroit, the missions and alley ways had become their home. No wonder they looked so defeated.
A couple of people had caught rides by this time, but I decided this effort was just plain hopeless for now, so being hungry myself, I ask George and George if they had eaten. They said no and I invited them to breakfast. We walked up to a Denny’s nearby and I spent probably half of my bank roll on us a decent breakfast. I guess their sad story worked on me. When we finished eating I looked at them and said, “Now, let’s go catch a ride”.
When we got back the ramp was deserted and within about ten minutes we had a ride, but sure enough got dropped off about twenty miles out of town. We had a little argument about getting right up on the interstate and the droopiest George said he wasn’t going to be hauled to jail by the cops and headed for the service road that ran by the highway. The remaining George was trying to get back to his woman in Detroit, so he was easier to convince to go on with me and my determination to get on up to Flagstaff.
We had to run from the police and jump the fence a couple of times but within an hour we were on our way past Phoenix all the way to Flagstaff where we dead ended into Interstate forty. I was going west and George was headed east toward Detroit. He was a very happy guy; shaking my hand, smiling ear to ear. I hope he got to Detroit and that lady. I ran across the road and stuck out my thumb sure that my next ride was on the way; I just didn’t know his name was John Kratsmire.