A wayfaring stranger

Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2016

At first, I just glanced in the rearview mirror.  Then, slowed and lightly touched the brake. About a mile down the highway I looked for a place to turn around. Not finding one, I shook off the notion to go back.

Anyway, she was young so she had a cell phone. She was on busy Highway 231. Help was, probably, already on the way and I had somewhere to be. Jiminy Cricket wouldn’t stop chirping in my ear.

Not too many years ago, stopping to help a stranded motorist was the neighborly thing to do. Now, with all the loose nuts rattling around, doing the neighborly thing is not always a wise thing.

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Back when folks cooked out rather than grilled or barbecued, when folks bought hamburger meat instead of ground beef and would talk rather than text, there was an activity that we called thumbing, the forerunner of hitch-hiking.

As an employee at Yellowstone National Park during the 1960s, I, like most all other park employees, had only one way to travel, Pat and Bob or my own two feet. But then, I discovered my thumb. And I realized that if I stood by the roadside and stuck my thumb out in the direction I wanted to go, motorists would stop and give me a ride.

To better our chances of quickly getting a ride, we would scribble signs identifying us as Y.P employees.

Back then, the world was not so small and Yankees found a Southern girl’s accent as sweet and rare as sourwood honey. So, we, the ancestors of GRITS, fashioned our signs to identify us Southern gals and cars would stop on a dime.

We quickly learned that the more we talked, the longer the ride. Oh, we strung out the y’alls and sho’nuffs and hush ya mouths! I’ll suwanee and honey chil’ would get us a ride and a hamburger and a co-cola. And, bless ya heart was the ticket to anywhere we wanted to go. Only the moon was the limit.

Once a couple of us thumbed a ride to Billings, Montana to attend Frontier Days. Little traffic was headed back to the park so the announcer on the radio remote told the world that two girls from Al-a-bam-er were needing a ride back to Yellowstone. In less than three minutes, a nice young buckaroo picked us up and took us to his family ranch for chow. Those folks hung on our ever word and we sweet talked ourselves into a ride all the way back to the park. His mama loaded us up with treats as sweet as the honey dripping from our lips. We left his mama and daddy drooling over our every word.

Oh, those kind-heart people.

But Jiminy Cricket’s chirping was even louder in my ear.

I put on the brake and turned my car around. That girl could be my daughter.


Not a smile or a wave. Not a thank you ma’am.

I pulled back on the highway and muttered to myself. “Well, kiss my grits.”

Girls Raised in the South aren’t always dripping with honey.