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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Hobo Saves the Day

Honestly, I didn't even want to ride home. I was too tired, too stressed out with wedding details, and the thought of having to get up at 4:45 because I'd left my car at the office made me feel exhausted.

But the weather had cleared, after all that rain, and I reasoned that a ride might improve my mood.

It didn't. I was harassed by two cars before I was half way home, I felt smothered by the humidity and slow.

Then, I got stuck behind a train in the West Bottoms. I'd stopped at the truck stop for a Guinness, got two bottles in fact, figuring one for shooting graffiti in an alley I haven't revisited in awhile, maybe the other for when I got home.

The graffiti shoot was supposed to salve what riding hadn't. I've been learning the new camera, and I definitely don't have it all figured out. I took some great shots at Friz yesterday evening on the ride home, at least great as far as capturing the essence of the game, but they're garbage shots too because I fucked up the white balance.

Anyway, I was debating whether to get my Nikon out for the tags on this train I was waiting on when I saw a guy appear in an open boxcar door, throw his pack out, then jump from the moving train.

"Well played!" I called out, but he was too close to the train to hear. He said something back, but I was right under that bell on the crossing bars.

Bo is traveling the country by alternative means. He told me about the Volvo someone gave him in Colorado, that he gave away in Washington state, and how a few months later that same exact car picked him and a buddy up while they were hitching in Florida.

A woman walked by with a twelve-pack, and Bo turned on all his considerable charisma to try and get one of those beers. She declined, but I said, "I can offer you a beer."

So we opened the Guinnesses from the truck stop, and I think Bo was genuinely impressed with his good fortune to have a large bottle of quality beer a few minutes after jumping off in this city for the first time.

We traded stories a bit, he told me about how he thought he was busted one time only to be invited into the front engine for food and cold beverages and basically given a free ride for some 400 miles.

Bo was real interested in my bike, saying he started out his journeys in a van, then the free Volvo, then the hiking and hopping freights. He said he wanted to try traveling by bike, but 'then you'd have this thing with you.' Given that he has a pack on him that probably weighs two thirds his body weight, I bet sooner or later he decides that 'thing' isn't so much a burden. He said he can do 25 miles per day on foot, and I'll bet for the same effort, he could carry himself and the same gear a century or maybe slightly better.

We talked about the city, where he might find what. He asked where he'd find backpacks, people traveling by freight train and whatnot, and I was like, "right here, dude." As if on cue, the Salvation Army rolled up and offered us sandwiches.

Basically, sharing that beer with a hobo made my day.

What I can't believe is I didn't take his picture. He had a bone through his ear, this huge backpack, and we were in the middle of the magic hour light-wise. And I'm sure he would have been down with being photographed if I'd asked. I was so caught up in the moment, it honestly didn't occur to me.

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