I was driving home Sunday morning from my friend, Melissa’s. It was a hot steamy day and I passed a bunch of bicyclists struggling up a hill on the moncure road. They all had on their fancy bicycle clothes and one guy was way behind the group trying to catch up.
Walking towards them on the side of the road was an older black man with his impeccable Sunday church clothes, including a long sleeve purple shirt and a purple tie. He was limping just a bit. His face had a look of grief, yet incredible determination as he looked ahead walking with purpose. There was no church within miles.
The culture has taught me not to pick up hitchhikers especially being female. I rarely do. The culture has taught me to fear those that don’t look like me. Be suspicious of those that are different from me. That part I never bought into.
Something about that man’s face made me turn around.
I pulled over on the curvy road and asked him if he needed a ride. He hobbled over and got into my beetle. He said his ride never showed up today and he needed to get to Homecoming at his church. I said, let’s get you there, sir.
He asked my name and said he would pray for me today. I laughed and said I certainly need it. His name was Larry. He was somber and said his marriage was in trouble. I told him my husband and I are separated. He told me about his 6 children and he told me about his leg injury while serving in the military stationed in Germany. He told me about his 10 year old son drowning. I told him about my 19 year old son dying from heroin.
I dropped him at the church where I always work during election time. The parking lot was packed for Homecoming.
Larry looked at me and said shyly, I hope it’s not too forward, but can I get your phone number. It helps to talk. Loneliness is hard.