I almost killed myself driving across the state line into NY. Interstate 90 was nearly empty and I was being careless with the phone. Every time I responded to the vibrations I could hear the voice of my 12 year old scolding me for not paying attention to the road. An accident had occurred just over the horizon and caught me off guard.
I managed to avoid with a swerve but the Trooper on the scene didn't seem to appreciate it much as indicated by the "what an asshole" look on his face.
I continued on about another hour or so and stopped for a refill and some time. I had calls to return and plans to firm up. I was planning on stopping in Oak Orchard for some fly fishing but time was getting scarce. I figured there would be plenty of streams along the journey so I decided to steam ahead and get to where I was going.
I reached Niagra Falls about 4 hours later. It was a relaxing ride with only about a stretch of it through rain. I kept the top down and enjoyed the cool damp mist blowing around the cab.
Crossing the border was uneventful. 40 year old white men never get hassled unless you tell them that you are going to see some people you know from the internet, have lots of cash on you, and can only name them by their blog handles. If that happens you're usually asked to pull over to the side and have your car dismantled like a Lego Castle by a bunch of toddlers. I just explained that I was going to the Casino. The girl said good luck, handed me my credentials, and I was on my way.
Niagra was fun. I stopped at the Casino for a meeting I had planned and played a little poker afterwords. I was looking forward to a fine meal with some friends up north so I skipped the cafeteria at the Casino.
I was getting bored driving along the coast line of lake Ontario and couldn't find anything on the radio, or the Ipod. Nothing sparked my interest. I saw a man up ahead on the side of the road holding a sign that read Toronto. I stopped and picked him up. He looked to be mid thirtyish and was cleaned up. "What's up slick?", I asked. "You heading to Toronto?" "Sure, hop in."
We didn't speak for the first 3 minutes as he settled himself in the seat, carefully placing his only bag between his feet. "You want a water?", I asked. "Yeah, I'd appreciate it." I reached back and grabbed a bottle out of the case and handed it to him. He nodded with a slight smile and opened it. "Your car break down?" He looked at me as if to show some agreement but I knew he wasn't telling the truth, nor did he want to lie.
We continued on for another mile or so and he spoke. "So you're from the U.S.?" "I am" "What brings you up this way?" "Have some business to attend to and seeing some friends while I'm here. You from here yourself?"
He evaded my question, "What business are you in?". "Little bit of this, little bit of that", I responded rather casually. He nodded again and this time smirked. "You know this is the most important ride of your life?" I was caught off guard a little but didn't show it. "Is that right?"
"I think you know already", he said as he pointed to the upcoming exit. "You getting off here?" "That's right." I merged to the right and drove down the ramp to the light. I swayed my index finger asking which way to go and he pointed to the right.
I made the turn and he said to stop right there. I pulled over to the curb and he said "Thanks man". He reached for the roll bar and pulled himself out of the cab, reached down and grabbed his bag and looked at me with a smile. I was going to offer him money, not really knowing his predicament, but he offered it to me first for the ride. "No man, keep your money." He paused for a second and shook his head. "Don't sweat it cuz. You're on the right path." I stared at him trying to place the face. For the first time during the ride it appeared to be familiar. "I didn't catch your name." He slapped the front of the head rest sending me off and said "drive safe", turned, and walked toward a gas station.
I shook my head, smiling, as I put the Jeep in gear and made the u-turn back to the on ramp trying to figure out what the hell that was all about.