This road I barely recognized~so many changes. A big ole road project had turned much of this little FM road into upturned Red Select dirt and ‘caution’ signs with giant noisy earth movers making way for even more, faster, distant people movers.
Progress comes, changes happen, ready or not.
In the midst of this I somehow overlooked the intersecting jog to the familiar Texas Road 69. The map and directions i had been given at the airport by the up and coming mover and shaker crowd had become null and void.
“hmmm” shoulda chosen the rental with the GPS ” said the little voice. ” don’t even go there! ” barked My voice. Thank goodness for “unlimited rental miles “.
The road crew, hired from out of another state, were no help. (probably if the job had been digging something up, having something (or someone) buried or destroyed they would have been happy to aid, but with peaceful directions, not so much.) Pulling to the side at the next intersection I noticed a very large video and appliance store (not those sorts of videos although it was just as out-of-place )at the intersecting farm roads…reckon they’re holding on for all those faster upandcomers.
“Not here” said IAM.
Driving on , I recognized the name of the upcoming town and knew I was not going to make my destination in the hoped for arrival window. About the time I Noticed a newer clean gas station and Dollar Store up on the left IAM noticed my notice.
“Here” He said.
“HERE?! ” Exploded in my head . To my right was the type of station we passed when I was growing up and given the chance I still drive right on by to this day. Dilapidated exterior, cracks, peeling paint and even an abandoned car in the adjacent field. ‘Seedy’ came to mind. You know what i was thinking …take the shiny newer ones! Ask someone in the NEWer CLEANer places . “Here” He whispered.
Maneuvering the shiny red rental through the unavoidable potholes to a spot at the side, I left the safe coolness and walked through the heat and humidity toward the unknown.
The glass was cracked while the right handle barely held itself to the door and the smell of cigarette smoke hit me like a tide as the door welcomed with the warm, lilting tinkle of silver bells strapped precariously to the better handle. The floor was the original linoleum or was it something else?
Years of farm talk, farm smells, fish stories and stale coffee echoed in that space. There in the middle were The Gentlemen holding court, telling tales, shooting the breeze. One now sporting hearing aids, one glasses and the third obvious health issues.
Everyone turned as this stranger entered , smiled, walked to the back for a diet Pepsi then made straight for The Three. “i think i might be in the right place . Can you tell me how to get to Mineola from here?”
From their knowing looks, clearly airport information had been faulty. A lovely, lively all too brief conversation followed with helpful hints as they all puffed their cigarettes, sipping coffee from styrofoam cups . Putting their cigarette butts into a long over due for emptying container in the center of the formica table, they prepared to give details as I searched my bag for a pen. None. Nor paper. Nor note taker. Darn. How did i get out of the car without something to record directions?
The One with glasses pulled a pen and a very small note pad from his front button up shirt pocket. With mildly trembling strokes he showed me the way. With great admiration and deference all present admitted that he was “their” writer. A little more chatting , a bit more bantering and I was on the way.
These men, these gentle , hard-working, once strong, still loyal , intelligent and faithful men, were this day’s best find. While the rest of the world raced crazily, insanely along, in His goodness God allowed a connection that would never have happened with the new shiny faster paced , progressive , perhaps aggressive ones across the way.
These Gentlemen represent real men of a bygone day . The kind that still carry tiny pads of real paper and writing utensils, who know every back road, farm road, fishing hole and neighbor in the area. Who likely helped and not hindered all their days.
Knowing that at again this moment, they’re settling into their same spots, same styrofoam cups , same stories somehow gives me great comfort in this sometime topsy-turvy, sometimes very scary world.
I didn’t remember to snap a photo of The Gentlemen, but I do have this. “X” marks ‘you are here’, arrows pointing the way to go. Just like Christ.
The road Will become unrecognizable. Guaranteed. Whose pointing you to the way?
Oh, and his directions? Spot on.
Until next time-Shandra