It was a very early morning around 6:30 a.m., on a Sunday, near Austin, Nevada. I was pulled over on the side of a small, two lane country road to check out my car after hearing a loud thumping noise. I thought to myself, “dammit, I’ve got such a bad headache and I‘m so tired, this is the last thing I want to deal with.” I was currently on my way back from a company retreat where we were having team building exercises at a ranch. I had to leave a day earlier than anyone else, and leave early in the morning because I was planning on going to a wedding around noon and it was a 5 hour drive back home. I was already fully dressed for the wedding and ready to go straight to the church. I get to the front of car and see that my front right tire was completely flat, and there was huge puncture in the tire. As I was finishing up changing the tire with my spare, I see a man walking up from the embankment on the side of the road, wearing shorts with crudely cut edges and a plain t-shirt. When he got a little closer I noticed his shoes, and I thought it was odd that he was wearing nice dress shoes, but they were covered in mud. Before I could say anything, he raised his hand, smiled and said, “Hey there, I’ve walking down this road for a while now looking for a ride. You think you drive me a few more miles down the way you’re going?” Seeing the state he was in and feeling bad for how cold it was I decided to give him a ride. He got in my car and I continued down the road.
I remember what it was like driving on the way here, very desolate, very long, and very cold. What could he mean by a “few” more miles down the road? In any case, I started to make some small talk with him to keep it from being awkward. I asked him his name but he spoke so quietly I could barely make it out, but it sounded like he said “Patient”, or “Patience”. I thought I just misheard him or he had a foreign name I couldn’t understand. I asked why he was out here so early and he had some story about how he likes to take long walks down this road in the mornings but this particular one he was feeling tired and didn’t think he could make it home on foot. I didn’t question him further, but thought it a little strange that this man was wearing such nice clothes while taking a walk in the middle of nowhere… and also while wearing those shoes.
As he was talking I would periodically glance over at him and I noticed how strikingly pale his skin was, like a chalky, white pale that I didn’t seem to notice earlier. I can’t explain it very well but longer I sat in the car with him, I felt almost like I knew him, like he was an old friend that I haven’t seen since childhood, and barely knew anymore, but still had some old memories to connect us…Each conversation died shortly and he kept staring out his window, keeping quiet for most of the drive. Multiple times I kept feeling like was about to doze off when right on queue he would make a comment about the weather or about the road, and then would remain quit after I responded. We’d been driving for at least 10 minutes when I finally spoke up and asked where exactly he needed me to drop him off. Without turning his head, he said in a quiet, raspy voice, “Just keep going, it can’t be much farther.” Every few seconds I would glance at him in my peripheral and see sitting in the same position, staring out the window, but frequently scratching his arms or his face.
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