Hello friends,

How’s life in your neck of the world? I guess it’s day five of my walkabout. I’ve picked up a new story or two to tell you, but I promised I’d tell you about my rides into Philly. I think I’ll stay where there’s electricity over the weekend, so I’ll be able to tell you all about being led (and danced at) by deer, the Zen masters I met, and the trouble with trying to do laundry in the woods. All this and more… eventually.

Let’s go back to those first moments of hitchhiking:

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Look at that pack. Look at that collection of bags! It doesn’t look much better now, but I promise I stashed some heavy books and other silly things when I was in Philly and it’s much more manageable (when it’s dry…)

So there I was, standing outside the door of the “service plaza” being friendly to everyone, wishing them safe travels. For a while, the most interest anyine showed had was in my ukulele. I’d only had it a few days at that point but, when someone asked, I managed a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s Hobo’s Lullabie. It didn’t help in the ride department, but anything to have fun, right?

After I’d been waiting about two hours, someone asked if I’d like a ride just to the state border. And did I mind dogs?
I was up for anything.
He led me to a brand new car, introduced himself (let’s call him Greg – I’m not comfortable using someone else’s name here), his daughter (I reckon we can call her Lucy) , and the white poodle snowball.

“I heard that poodles are one of the smartest breeds of dogs,” I said.
“Well, snowball is the exception to that rule,” Greg replied.

Snowball and I shared the back seat and it turned out that he was an excellent cuddler. That was just fine in my book. They’d got him in Europe when they lived in Luxembourg because of Greg’s wife’s job “in the energy industry.”

When he realized I’d lived at Jesus People (the intentional community where I lived for 10 years), Greg seemed excited. He was a fan of Resurrection Band, the rock group from the community, and read the magazine we used to publish, but he’d never met a real life “JPUSA” before.

“If you had just had a sign that said you were from JPUSA I wouldn’t have even hesitated about picking you up. It’s a shame that we Christians have to hide ourselves or…” I don’t remember what his or what was, exactly… just that he thought that advertising yourself as a Christian in the Midwest of the US would somehow bring trouble.

They sound up giving me a ride all the way to their home town of Akron, OH. They were coming home from visiting grandpa before Lucy headed back to college. They stopped at an outlet mall on the way, but they were happy to take me farther if I would wait. I was, and wandered around and found this fun-free pond behind the mall:

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At some point, he told me that he thought that the reason that JPUSA works when socialism doesn’t is because everyone contributes. Gosh… how do you gracefully discuss politics and religion with your host when it becomes clear that you disagree? I don’t want to bore you with the details (read: I’m tired of writing and this is already long) but I will say I had an interesting lesson in diplomacy. I did get him to laugh a time or two as I hope I got him to consider the idea that the problem with our system isn’t mostly deadbeats, it’s capitalists choosing who has the right to services (through job scarcity at least).

I will say this: he was the only driver who let me off at a service plaza for my next ride. Thanks, “Greg,” for your kindness and thoughtfulness to me and the spirited discussion. If you should happen to read this, I’d love to hear from you.

I’m glad to be writing again. I’ll get more out soon. I hope you’re well.

Joby