Train Station by Midnight

My wife and I had just watched the sun set into the Pacific ocean from a bench high atop a cliff. The towns in this area are small, and the restaurants we found were closed and/or closing at 8:30. We decided to head into Morro Bay to see if we could find some food there…

As we drove down Highway 1, the dusk settling into night around us, we passed a man walking along the side of the road, dragging a travel bag on wheels, barely catching a glimpse of him in the headlights. He was in the middle of nowhere. Well, nowhere in California is a little different from nowhere in Utah, but he was out away from all cars, all towns, just trudging along.

I felt LeeAnn look at me, “we have to go see if he needs help” she said – I had the same feeling. I was already signaling to pull over and turn around…


His name is David. He woke up this morning and his truck wouldn’t start in Gorda Springs, about 30 miles from where we picked him up. He said he had told the manager of the motel that he would pick up his truck in a week, and started walking and we were the first car that had pulled over to offer help all day.

He wasn’t bitter about the fact that nobody had helped him – he actually said he didn’t blame them. “People are just afraid now”, he said, “you never know what kind of crazy you might be picking up”.

He had to get to San Luis Obispo to catch an Amtrak train by midnight. He mentioned he had just told the Lord that he had tried his hardest, but he just wasn’t going to make the train tonight… then a miracle…

He’s headed for Cheyenne. His son worked on a ranch there, had a wife and two kids, had just bought four acres of his own to start his own ranch… the son that died two days ago when a horse threw him and he broke his neck on impact. David needed to be in Cheyenne to “set things straight” he said.

David lives in Big Sur. He moved here for ten years ago after his wife was killed in a car crash. He’s made his way mining jade from the local mountains, carving and shaping it and polishing it to sell in his shop. He just couldn’t keep up with all the expenses – gas is $5.00/gallon in Big Sur ($3.20 everywhere else at this writing), rent for his store was very expensive – he just couldn’t move enough jade to make it work. He had just returned from selling the rest of his jade inventory in San Francisco…

Then word of his son. A quick purchase of a round trip ticket on Amtrak, and a drive to San Luis Obispo that just didn’t go as planned. He’ll be on the train for the next 22 hours, but he doesn’t mind. He’s got a sleeper car, and the scenery will be beautiful. It will give him time to think…

He’s not sure what he’ll do now. There’s not a lot holding him in Big Sur – except his truck broken down 40 miles south in Gorda Springs… maybe he’ll stay on in Wyoming, and try to make a go of the ranch his son started. He said it like he wanted it to happen, but I got the impression his heart wasn’t in it.

What he’d like to do most is return to the east coast… Florida. He misses it. A lot.

We drove him all the way into San Luis Obispo – so he had some time to tell us his stories. We dropped him off down the street from the train station. He offered to pay us gas money. We wished him the best. What do you say to a person who has this kind of weight in his life?

The thing about it was… well he was just kind of upbeat. He wasn’t pleased about the situations in his life right now, but he wasn’t a victim, he wasn’t depressed. He had this overall upbeat attitude that he would “set things straight” and his life would get back on track again. He told us stories of situations that would be hard for us to bear, but he did it with a demeanor that made us think that overall, David was going to be all right.

We headed back to our family – a little more grateful… feeling a little more blessed.

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4 Responses to Train Station by Midnight

  1. inavihsCA says:

    “People are just afraid now”, he said, “you never know what kind of crazy you might be picking up” This is the current state of mind for most and I am glad that there are still angels like you. God bless you.


  2. Roxanne says:

    Another person who has been touched by your kindness and generosity. Wonderful story. I hope that he finds contentment in his life. Who knows? Maybe he’ll end up in Florida and in one of my stories, too!


  3. george Bingham says:

    Sometimes we ask for guidence or confirmation of our selves and God gives us chances to prove our goodness to others, ourselves and to HIM. You and LeeAnn just did.


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