Oh, the Places We Will Go … Oh, the People We Will Meet
Ahhh travel. That wonderful time in our lives when we get to disconnect from our routine and explore the world beyond our immediate circle of influence. Asia? Africa? The inner city? The destination doesn’t matter as much to me as the experience, the journey itself, and the people I meet along the way.
But then again, my travel experiences have been rife with interesting journeys—and well, people.
Like the time I was driving my husband’s Ford F150 and pulling our twenty-three-foot Chris Craft Cuddy up to Lake Michigan only to be pulled over by a state policemen because the license tag on our boat trailer had expired. A tall, slender, State Mountie, with a demeanor that screamed I was once a Marine, wrote me a warning ticket, and told me that I needed to follow him to the police department to get the tag removed.
The only problem was that I urgently needed to find a restroom. (I seem to have a bladder the size of a thimble!) After explaining my plight, and since the police station was at least thirty minutes away, the state trooper told me to follow him to the nearest toll booth so I could use the employee restroom. We were in the southbound lane, and the restroom was on the northbound side, so the policeman had to escort me across four lanes of expressway traffic.
After using the facilities, and being escorted back across the four lanes of traffic, we proceeded to the police station. It was in a residential neighborhood, and the only place to park my truck-boat trailer monstrosity was on the street. As I attempted to parallel park, this same state trooper walked up the sidewalk at the precise moment the boat’s very long antennae flopped over and vibrated with a loud twang that came within millimeters of hitting the edge of his wide-brimmed, Mountie hat.
Embarrassed, I sheepishly slid out of the driver’s seat, apologized profusely, and went inside to pay the fine.
Yes, my travel experiences seem to always involve distinct encounters with interesting people.
Another time, my husband and I were driving to Naples, Florida, for a family reunion. Wanting to look his best, and knowing that my dad would introduce him as “my son-in-law, the preacher,” my husband decided to get his thick locks trimmed.
This was in the days before GPS and Yelp, so we stopped at the first barber shop we found along US Route 41. My husband went to get his trim, and I waited in the car with the kids. After a while, I decided to go into the barber shop to see how he was doing. I took one look at him and was shocked. There, sitting in an old, early 1900s-style barber chair, was my very dapper husband sporting a new one-eighth-inch buzz cut. The remains of his full head of hair lay whimpering on the floor.
The barber, seemingly oblivious to the blow he had just delivered to my husband’s ego, was chattering away in Spanish to several others in the room. My husband just looked at me with those you-better-not-say-a-word kind of eyes and simply said, “There was a miscommunication.”
I stifled an uproarious laugh and walked outside, knowing that it would take my fastidious husband a few moments to compose himself before facing the kids.
Yes, engaging with unique people has become a natural part of my vacations.
My most recent people-encounter happened just a few months ago during a forty-minute cab ride. My husband and I had just spent seven days on a Caribbean cruise in celebration of our thirtieth wedding anniversary and were taking the cab to the airport for our flight home. We were tired and looking forward to a quiet, non-descript ride, but our driver, Solomon, had other ideas. He was very chatty, extremely animated, and despite heavy rush hour traffic, frequently turned around in his seat to talk to us.
Solomon had an opinion on everything: Obama, healthcare, the plans to widen the highway, the state of the world, ISIS. And after every one of his short dissertations, he would look at me and say “You know, Mommy?”
We listened to Solomon for quite a long time. Then we told him about Jesus. He told us he had no interest in organized religion. We told him of the experience of a personal relationship with Christ. He rebuffed us. We gave him a church card anyway.
As we got out of the cab, Solomon helped us with our bags. My husband gave him a generous tip. He thanked us and gave us both a big hug. After Solomon hugged me, his eyes welled up with tears and he said to my husband, “Wow, I don’t know what it is about your wife Bro, but she’s got some sort of positive energy that like blows my mind.”
Remembering these people that I encountered during my various trips gives me pause and makes me wonder. Did God chose a straight-laced policeman to teach me about keeping my tags renewed? Could He have allowed an over-eager, non-English speaking barber to give my husband and me a taste of salvation plan?
I don’t know for sure, but one thing I do know is that as long as I approach each trip with a here-we-go-Jesus approach, I will continue to meet people that teach me about myself, my world, and my God.
Debbie Simler-Goff loves to travel and meet God’s beautiful people. She is an author, speaker, and ice cream eater. Her wonderhubby, Paul, is the assistant pastor at Bartlett UPC, located in a quaint suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Debbie’s greatest desire in life is to be the writer that God has called her to be. It would make her day if you would stop by her blog at www.dsimlergoff.com
and say hello.