The drive between Washington Park and Greeley is becoming a well worn path. I learned very quickly that the best way to there is not I-25, but rather to go up the old highway 85. It is travel the way I grew up; stop lights, drive-in food restaurants, farms and farmers and many local homegrown businesses like Big Ed’s Radiators. It is a very busy drive but it is absent of the frenetic lane dodging as you work your way up the stop and starts of the New Colorado (AKA SoCal Light). For the second time I turned on my Lyft app just to see what might happen as I headed south. As I hit the edge of south Greeley I was ‘pinged’, I accepted the ride and then I realized I was headed seven miles north of Greeley. I thought “Well, I am two for two in my Weld County Lyft experiences, another giant U-turn”.
I headed up highway 85 on my way to Cheyenne. I was on the north edge of town which is occupied by two kinds of business—farm equipment and oil field service companies. I went to the exact intersection where it said he would be and there was no one there. It was time to ‘call the passenger’, which is a very helpful option. He answered and I said, “I am at the intersection the GPS sent me to and I don’t see you”. “Oh, I am so sorry, I started walking and I am now across the highway at the John Deere store”. I looked up the highway and saw the very familiar green and yellow sign. We connected and as he sat in the front seat he said, “Sorry, this is my first Lyft ride ever. I just got into town this morning. I got a great job. Could you take me to a decent motel”? “Wow, that’s a lot of excitement for one day. Do you have any hotel preferences”? “Not too expensive, and close to decent restaurants”. “Well, we will have to head about eight miles away, it’s in an area I stay in when I spend the night here as I commute to Greeley from Denver”. He then told me a somewhat awful, but funny joke about cheap hotels. The next question he asked me was what am I doing in Greeley. I thought about lying so as not to open the “Oh I am so sorry Reverend ‘Can of Worms’ but I told him the truth. “I am the new minister at Greeley First Christian Church”. “Oh, I am so sorry Father”. “No worries it really was funny. I won’t be using it in my sermon next Sunday, and I remember stories but hardly ever jokes”.
I asked how he picked Greeley. “I was in Las Vegas and I did a Google search for places with very low unemployment and good working environment. I had worked in the oil fields before and knew I could get a job. So I sold or gave away everything I owned except what’s in this bag. I have enough money for a while. I said if I get a job that’s where I’m supposed to be. Well, I got the job, now I have to find a place to live”. He asked how bad Winter is here. I wanted to make up a story about sled dogs but I said, “Oh, we have snow but it rarely lasts for more than a day or two. You will have plenty of days in January and February where it is sunshine and light jacket weather”.
We then had a very real conversation about alcoholism and recovery. He was rebuilding his life and there was a depth of honesty and humility there that inspired me.
We got to a decent motel and he hopped out and was able to get a room on a week to week basis. I had been waiting for him in case we had to move on. He came back and walked around to my rolled down driver’s side window. He stuck out his very large and rough working man’s hand and said, “Thanks so much for just listening”. I said, “Thanks for such a great story of coming back from the edge. You will love Colorado, and this native is glad you came”.
Onward and Upward,
2 thoughts on “Hank”
Thanks for another great story.
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Mark — Greeley is so fortunate to have you! I did most of my undergraduate work at UNC and really liked living there (except for the manure smell — every once in a while). In many ways it was a big Alamosa!
Thanks for your blog!
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