Bill and I are driving to town one day. It had rained hard for the previous three or four days and we’d already pulled numerous vehicles out of the mud between Chicken Corner and town.
It’s probably a little over 100 degrees when we come across two guys walking barefoot towards town. I pull up in the truck and ask em what’s up?
Them: “It’s hot.”
Me: “Where’s your vehicle?”
Them: “Stuck in the mud.”
Me: “Where’s your shoes?”
Them: “We didn’t think we’d need them. It was such a nice day we thought we’d just take the truck and play in the mud so we didn’t bring any shoes.?
Me: “No vehicle, no shoes. You have any water?”
Them: “Man some water would be great? Can you pull us out?”
Me: “I’m not sure. I need a minute.”
I crank the window back up and look at Bill.
Bill: “We got to help them.”
Me: “No, we don’t. These guys are idiots. We leave them here, come back in three or four hours, they’ll be dead. I was cleaning out the shed and found four body bags in there. We bury them and the world as a whole will be better off.”
Bill: “I can’t. We have to help them. I’m a humanitarian.”
Me: “Me too Bill, just with a longer view. We save them and they’ll do this again some day and maybe take somebody with them.”
Bill: “We have to help them.”
Bill wins out and we pull their truck out of the Kane Creek mud way downstream and get them some water.
Maybe a year later Bill and I traveling down the east side of Hurrah Pass on an early summer morning when we see two guys walking barefoot towards town.
Me: Nice morning eh?
Me: Where you headed?
Me: Fifteen miles of at best gravel.
Me: Where’s your shoes?
Them: In the jeep.
Me: Where’s the jeep?
Them: Down there. (Pointing into a ravine.)
Me: That’s about the only place you can go off Hurrah and not die. How come you’re all scratched up and your clothes torn and he’s got not a scratch?
First them: “I was in the jeep when it went off.”
Other them: “I was riding on the hood. Jumped off.”
Me: You were riding on the hood of the jeep on Hurrah Pass at seven in the morning?
Other them: “Yes. To watch the sunrise.”
Me: “Window too tinted?”
Me: To first them: “How did you miss that corner?”
Them: “Couldn’t see.”
Me: “Sun in your eyes?”
Them: “No, he was riding on the hood.”
Me: “On the driver’s side?”
Them: “Could we get some water and maybe catch a ride?”
Me: “I need a minute.”
I roll the window up.
Me: “Bill, what are the odds we’d find two guys, twice, inside a year, walking in the boonies barefooted?”
Bill: “I know. It’s weird isn’t it?”
Me: “I don’t think so. I think this is fate telling us we screwed up last time and giving us a second chance to make things right. How many second chances you get in life Bill? Screw something up and you get a chance to fix it."
Bill: “I’m a child of the sixties. We help people.”
Me: “I know you want to teach the world to sing but sometimes you got to look further ahead. Think of it like this. Someday they’re going to find a girlfriend. A sister or cousin, but still a female. They might have kids. Their kids will be like them and someday do something stupid and maybe hurt our kids. I say we leave them here. It’ll be 100 plus in an hour, they’ll never make it to town. Bill, I’m begging you. We are here at this moment in time for a reason. We have a chance to be chlorine in the human gene pool. To make a real difference.”
Bill rolls his window down and says “Get in, we’ll give you a ride to town.”
A year or so later Bill is moving to Hawaii. It’s his last day at the lodge. We’re good friends but we’re trying to be guys in our goodbyes and not cry and hug and stuff.
Bill: “I’m going to miss you Tom.”
Me: “I’m going to miss you too Bill. You’re a good guy.”
Bill: “Really? Well thanks.”
Me: “You know who’s going to miss you the most?”
Me: “The next two guys I meet walking through the desert barefooted. They might not have ever known you, but they will miss you.”