Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Tale of Four Cities and A Bottle of Whiskey

I'm not certain if this is funny or just sad. As I arrived at church tonight I noticed our Director of Security talking to a man in the parking lot. It was obvious at first glance that he was being asked for money. The man was driving a pick-up truck that was rented from U-Haul. It bore Arizona license plates. As I got out of the car I entered into the conversation. The man was hoping for a cash contribution. He needed gasoline to get to the bedside of his soon to be deceased mother in Memphis, Tennessee. He was asking for five dollars.

(Memphis is several hundred miles away. Five dollars will not buy you two gallons of gasoline. I do not think that U-Haul's get 150mpg. This was my first clue.)

Adam, our Director of Security, had strolled off to look at the mans truck. There was no luggage in it. There was, however, a bottle of whiskey. (This was our second and third clues.)

I told the man that we do not give out cash but that if he would fill out the proper application we would look it over and after a back ground check by the police department we might be able to help him in the morning. He told me that he had already been to the police station and they had given him some spare change. He said that he had to get to Memphis tonight because his mother would be passing away in three days. Seriously. I asked him how he knew that it would be three days before she expired. He told me that the doctor had told him. (This was our fourth clue.)

So for clarification I tried to restate the situation. "So you live here, you rented the truck, and now you need to be in Memphis and five dollars in gas is going to help you?" He told me that I was not listening and that if I would just listen I would surely understand. He said that he doesn't live here he lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, and that was also where he rented the truck.

Little Rock.


(This was our fifth clue.)

I asked the man if he knew where he was. He said that he did. I told him that he was in the suburbs of St. Louis. He told me that he knew that. I asked why he had driven to St. Louis to get to Memphis when he started in Little Rock. His reply was that U-Haul had given him bad directions. I really tried very hard not to laugh. Honestly, I did. Our friend could have driven from Little Rock to Memphis and back again and not traveled as far as he had come. I drew a triangle in the air to illustrate his situation. I looked at Adam and, honestly, he looked like he needed a little of this guys whiskey.

This was the time that he decided to play his "I'm not a redneck" card. I replied that I had never called him a redneck. And he told me that I kept telling him the same thing over and over. I said that was because he kept asking the same question over and over. Now he said that if I wasn't going to help him I should just say so.

I said so.

He got in his truck and left all in a huff, rented tires spinning on the parking lot asphalt. As he pulled out onto Lebanon Avenue there were four police cars sitting along side the road on what was obviously a drug-bust on a car they had pulled over. The U-Haul wisely slowed down and made his way ... toward Indianapolis.