Read the whole story in California to Ohio (Unabridged).
Friday, December 15, 2006 (continued)
Are you starting to understand what I mean when I say hitchhiking is a great way to meet the most kind-hearted people? Y'see, Rudy didn't have to offer the kid a motel room or a job opportunity, just like no one else offered the kid a motel room or a job opportunity. And chances are, no one else would have offered the kid a motel room or a job opportunity. But Rudy did offer the kid a motel room for the night, even after he suspected the kid might renege on the labor part of the offer, because Rudy is the kind of person who looks for goodness in people. When presented with the opportunity, Rudy tries to make the world a better place, one person at a time.
What might have become of that kid if Rudy hadn't so selflessly donated a few minutes of his life and a small amount of his hard-earned money? Would the kid ever have found anyone else willing to give him an opportunity to succeed? Maybe he would have ended up shooting smack into his arm five times a day until finally injecting just a tiny bit too much one lonely night, dying beside a dumpster at the age of 25. Maybe he would have ended up in the streets of Los Angeles or New York City, resorting to giving blowjobs in filthy bathroom stalls just to keep himself alive.
You never know what could have become of him. Even if he did have all the right intentions, life could have ended up beating him down and turning him into a dead 25-year-old junkie.
But Rudy didn't let that happen. Consequently, I respect the hell out of Rudy for that act of kindness, as well as all the acts of kindness he never told me about but that I know he's done.
At just about 10:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time, Rudy and I crossed the Arizona state line, meaning it was actually 11:00 PM, Mountain Standard Time. We were now only 17 miles from Quartzsite.
Twenty minutes later we pulled into the Pilot station in Quartzsite, where I called my buddy Otis to let him know I'd arrived. Assuming Otis lived in a relatively large RV, I was hoping he would offer to let me crash with him for the night. Instead, he told me I should look for a room at the Yacht Club, which was just a few hundred feet east of the Pilot station.
No big deal. I said I was hoping Otis would offer to let me crash at his place, not that I expected him to make the offer. Besides, as I found out the next day, Otis doesn't live in a relatively large RV; he lives in one of those small truck caps, with barely enough space for one person to live comfortably.
I wasn't sure about the Yacht Club, though, and I was having a difficult time retaining Otis's instructions, so I ended up deciding I should check out the Super 8 Motel I'd noticed down the road behind us. Rudy was kind enough to drive me to the Super 8 and hang around while I registered at the front desk.
When I'd finished with the motel registration chore, Rudy told me he would be back on the road the next morning, driving through Quartzsite on his way to Yuma, then passing through Quartzsite again on his way to Phoenix later in the day. Knowing I intended to hit Phoenix on my way home, he told me I was welcome to join him for the ride. He then gave me his phone number, which I called immediately so he would have my number in his phone.
I thanked Rudy for his kindness and told him I might take him up on his offer tomorrow. Rudy also thanked me, I guess for being a friendly companion, but mostly because Rudy is just a friendly, polite individual. Then we said goodbye and I went to my motel room.
After setting my bags down in my room at about midnight, I decided I really needed something to eat. All I'd eaten that day was two bowls of Frosted Mini Wheats, and that was over 12 hours ago at Jeff's house. Unfortunately I was over a mile from the nearest convenience store or fast food joint, and I only had $19 to my name, so I had to try to find something remotely filling and remotely inexpensive in the motel's vending machine.
Opting to buy a pack of 4 Soft Batch cookies, which cost 75 cents, I slid a dollar bill in the vending machine. But dammit, wouldn't you know I pressed the wrong button. No problem, though, because the vending machine had the two-button system, where you have to hit a lettered button and a numbered button to get your treat. So I pressed the coin return button and reached down to retrieve my four quarters. To my surprise, my four quarters had become six quarters, so I decided to use my new fortune to buy a second pack of Soft Batch cookies.
Mmmm, what a nutritious dinner.
Before I continue, I want to make it perfectly clear that I did have a credit card with me, along with the $19 I had in my pocket. My goal was to get back home without using the credit card, but sometimes it's just not possible to do things exactly how you'd like to do things, especially when you are injured or when you risk freezing to death. So yes, I ended up using the credit card a few times during the remainder of my trip, but only when I felt I really needed to use it. And no, the credit card was not in my name. Not officially, anyway. It did have my name on it, but I wasn't the person paying the balance.
I revealed this bit of information for one reason only: Because I am an honest person. I could omit all the non-tough aspects of my story in an attempt to make people believe I'm some kind of indestructible superhero, but that would make me a liar, and I just wouldn't be able to respect myself for that. Besides, I did put myself through a lot more shit than most people could have handled. And now that you know I'm not hiding anything from you or trying to pretend I never gave in to the temptation of using Mommy's money to spend a comfortable night in a motel room, maybe you'll be more apt to appreciate the hard times I am going to tell you about.
So if anyone reading this thinks I'm a spoiled little brat because I had the green light to use a credit card that wasn't mine, get over it. The way I see it, it was an early Christmas gift. And you know what: You received Christmas gifts from your parents, too. You just received them in a different form and on a different day.
Also, if there is anyone out there who wants to make believe my journey was even kind of easy simply because I stayed in a few motel rooms or because I had access to emergency funds, you're just plain wrong. I was almost constantly tired, hungry, shivering cold, and in intense physical pain (from sore muscles and a serious injury). And I have video footage to prove it.
To continue, read California to Ohio, Part VI.
Or read the whole story in California to Ohio (Unabridged).