It had been a long walk. Thankfully she had on comfortable, sturdy shoes and in many ways enjoyed the walk. When the car pulled over on the shoulder, although she was grateful, she hesitated. Having spent so much time walking this road and accepting a ride on a few occasions, she had learned that one must be cautious with trusting the driver.
Stepping out of the car and walking toward her, he smiled graciously and asked, “May I give you a ride?”
It had been hundreds of miles since she last accepted a ride. Not that there hadn’t been offers, but she wouldn’t just climb into any car…..it was always a conscious decision. She only accepted rides from cars with which she was familiar. Cars, that over the course of her walking, she had seen driving to and from other destinations; sometimes with a passenger and sometimes by themselves. She knew them because she watched them.
“Would you like a ride?” he interrupted her thoughts.
“I think that I am ready for a ride.” she finally answered with a hint of a smile forming in the corners of her lips.
Walking to the passenger side of the car, he politely opened the door and softly took her hand to help her comfortably enter. Shutting the door after making sure she was safely in, he took his position behind the wheel and the ride began.
“I’ve seen you on this road before.” he stated.
“Yeah, I’ve traveled down it.” never giving more information than she was ready to was something she had perfected.
“Broken down?” he questioned.
“Out in these rural areas where the next ride comes far and few between, it is a wise idea to make sure that you are prepped and ready to make the long distances on your own. It is something that I learned the hard way when I began using this road, that is why I have such good walking shoes, I won’t accept a ride from just anyone.” she stated matter-of-factly.
“Care to share your experiences with me?” The concern in his eyes and the caring tone in his voice made her pause for a moment. Silence loomed while she formulated a response and decided if sharing would be something safe for her to do. Questions ran through her head. Why did it matter? Was it just simple conversation for the ride or was there true concern? Is he looking to find incompetence on my part because I’m positive there is? Why did he care when nobody else seemed to?
“Well there are several stories. Are you sure you really want to listen?” she asked hoping the answer would be in the negative to save her from going out of her comfort zone, but not understanding the level of trust that was quickly building with this stranger that captured her interest.
“I wouldn’t have asked if I wasn’t willing to listen.” came the reply
She sighed and began her story. “The first ride I accepted was after I had walked a long time and was just learning about this road. The driver was excited to have a passenger in the car and we traveled a lot of miles just talking and enjoying the company and I was happy not to have to be walking anymore. It wasn’t until I realized that he passed the town at which I wanted to stop, that I took inventory of the entire situation. Only then did it hit me that I was in a car that wasn’t safe. When I was finally paying attention, I was frightened that the driver was all over the road, not paying attention to the road signs placed for safety. When the driver pulled over to pick up another passenger, I bailed. As I walked away, the car slowly followed and I could hear the driver apologize time and again and promising to be safer. After 50 miles, the new passenger finally got the driver to pass me and speed away. I was relieved to be walking on my own again.”
“A few rides were accepted in between, but they really don’t have much of a story to them. They were just rides that lasted for very short distances before the driver tired of having a passenger and pulled over to let me continue my walk. If you would like to know about them, I will share.”
“How about moving to the next ride that took you further down the road,” he suggested.
This was a ride that she really didn’t like to share. One that caused some time to relearn how to walk after being thrown from a moving car, but she continued with the story.
“This driver was extremely safe, that may have been some of the problem. The speed of the car was always going ten miles under the posted limit. However, the driver was always so concerned with the happiness of me, the passenger, that I was willing to overlook the over precautions that were being taken. Conversation was such that the miles passed and I didn’t realize where we were and frankly, I didn’t care. I was ready to drive to wherever the driver was going. The driver told me that I could stay and would be willing to take me to the final destination. That meant that I would no longer have to walk and I was okay with that decision. I wasn’t until we were about 10 miles out of the final destination that the driver suddenly opened the car door and push me out. I think it was the only time that the speed limit was being exceeded. I sat in the dirt and brushed myself off as much as I could and slowly relearned how to walk down the street. However I learned to walk a little further from the street. With my legs still aching, it was harder to accept any more rides. Walking was safer.”
“Have you been able to accept other rides since?” he cautiously asked
“Yes, there has been another ride. It took me a long time to accept a ride and then I made sure that the seat belt was buckled tightly. I decided that conversation was to be limited about me so that I wouldn’t be pushed from a moving car again.”
Seeing that she was done talking for the moment, they drove, both in their own thoughts, knowing that only time would bring the trust to share.