Gift Card #25: Hugh
Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
39Trip End May 24, 2011
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We ordered our chicken nuggets and ate, drank and chatted. In the booth behind us sat a man who, if I had to cast someone as a typical trucker for a movie, he'd the get role. Black coat, trucker-style cap over grey hair. Rough skinned face framed by a long grey-turning-white beard. He sat by himself and ate his lunch, drinking coffee he'd bought to fill his personal travel mug.
Mike got up to refill our drinks, and I got up to throw out our trash, walking right past the man's table. I backed up and took him by suprise when I asked if I could take his trash for him. "everyone needs to be served some time," I smiled as I took his tray. "Maybe," he said, stunned, "but it never happens to me." That was our introduction.
I sat down again, and that could have been the end of our interaction, but he kept talking, unsolicited. I've learned that often times people are looking to know that another human is interested in what they have to say. He wouldn't have spoken to us if I hadn't forced myself into his space by taking his tray. But, once the door was opened, he seemed to jump at the chance to walk into a conversation.
He quickly divulged that, in accordance with my assumptions, he indeed does drive a truck for a living. His home is near Las Vegas where his wife raises horses. He has over 20, but, like the house market, horses aren't selling well now. So, "you keep them or give them for free just to get rid of them," Hugh said. "My wife said she wanted horses, so she got horses." He's driven all over the lower 48 and lived in all sorts of lands - the beach on the pacific coast, mountains, desert. He likes them all, but enjoys his home in NV best, as it's away from a lot of people, quiet, spacious.
We'd forgotten our gift cards, since we walked to lunch and all the cards we keep in the van. So, I went to the counter and bought a gift card.
As he was getting ready to leave, I stood up to stop him. "Hugh, it would be an honor for me if you'd accept this gift card from us," I handed him a $10 card to McDonald's. We know he eats there. At first he refused, but I insisted. "You just don't meet people on the road that do this," he said. I'd confused him again. "It's a free gift," I replied. "We believe God gave us a free gift in his son Jesus Christ, and so we want to pass on this free gift to you. Please take it." As he put it in his pocket, he said, "You sound like us. My wife and I will take people into church, make sure they've got food and clothes. So I guess goodness comes back around." We said our goodbyes, bid each other safe driving. And Hugh left me with this thought: People don't expect kindness from each other.
But our story does not end with Hugh's departure. The cashier who rang up the gift card was now wiping down tables. As she cleaned off Hugh's now empty spot, she said, "You guys aren't from here, are ya?" We had to have her repeat herself as we were not expecting her to talk to us. And then confirmed that we are not from Kansas City. "That was a really nice thing you did," she said, "giving that card to that man. It was really nice." Thus, she taught us our second lesson: You never know who's watching.