A lesson in gratitude…


Yesterday afternoon I was getting on Highway 39 from route 6 and there at the on-ramp was 70 year old Pedro with his thumb in the air. He knew I was going to drive right by him and he still smiled and waved. At the next exit I found myself heading the other way to pick him up.  His small sign made from cardboard and permanent marker said “El Paso” which was on my way to Peoria.

I will never see him again, but in the 40+ miles we spent together, he created a permanent place in my heart.  He got laid-off from a construction job laying stone in Pennsylvania and it took him 11 days to get here. He lost his wife to cancer in ’78 and  is the last remaining of his brothers and sisters. He is on his way to see his daughter in San Antonio, TX.

He had been standing there since 5am.  I said I couldn’t believe he went over 8 hours without someone stopping and he said “I’m just so grateful to be alive.” The man just spent the night under a bridge for shelter from the rain, someone stole his sleeping bag the night before, he has only 55 cents in his pocket, and the first thing he talks about is how grateful he is. He went on to say that he understands that people are just scared. He said, “I’m scared too, I don’t know whose car I’m getting into”.  I remember my fear when we hitchhiked into town to get groceries off the AT.  Usually people only think about the fear of who they would be letting in their car, not how afraid the person is getting in to it.

I left him at the edge of route 24 in El Paso with 20 bucks and a hug.  I hope he makes it to his daughter. It’s interesting to me that the people that have the least seem more often than not to be the most grateful. I guess for most of us we don’t really appreciate what we have until we don’t have it.  I feel blessed when I get a reminder to be grateful for what I have without having to lose someone or something to remember that.  Thank you, Pedro. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

P.S. Don’t worry mom, I don’t normally spend my time picking up strangers.  This time I just had a good feeling 😉



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Categories : Be Happy


  1. Pam Chandler says:

    Mom will always worry!

That Free Thing

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