Greetings. This writing was inspired by Brandi Ebner's article about "Good Neighborliness" in the Oct. 5 edition of the CO.
I too have become exasperated at the divisiveness that seems to have surfaced the last few years. It is hurtful, destructive and stifling. It seems to me it causes folks to only value folks who share their views or look like them.
Anyway, I want to share a story that happened on Oct. 10. I was on my way into town on Highway 26 East when I passed Johnson Creek Road and noticed some fellow off in the bushes there up against the fence. I made a mental note that I would check on him on my way home. My errands in town took longer than expected, so I was heading home at dusk. The fellow was still there and was fussing around with his possessions. I pulled into Johnson Creek Road and turned around, pulled off the pavement and stopped.
I walked around the fence comer and asked him how he was doing and if he was all right. He said he was OK, so I asked him what he was up to and what his plans were for the night. He said he was from Arizona, was heading to Pendleton for his dad's funeral, his truck had "broke down," and he was catching rides the best he could. He was going to sleep alongside Brian's fence. I guessed he was probably around 70 years old, dressed like a cowboy and in rough shape.
I told him I wasn't going to let him sleep on the ground and to gather his stuff up. He had a small bag of clean clothes, a bag of dirty clothes, a bag of assorted edibles and a couple of big bags of bottles and cans he had picked up. When he stood up, he could barely walk with a stove-up hip from falling asleep on the ground. I got the car closer, and we loaded him and his belongings into the car.
On the drive into town, he shared that he was a Vietnam vet who had been sprayed with Agent Orange. I too am a draftee veteran who spent my year in Asia. I have known other vets who were exposed to Agent Orange, and it damaged them severely. Anyway, we chatted all the way to the Best Western. I went in and checked for vacancy and the wonderful night clerk, Morgan, sold me the last room she had that wasn't a suite! (She even called other hotels to see if they had openings.) She was a gem! So, I helped Raymond gather his bags and I told him I was going to "buy" his empty cans and bottles from him so we didn't have to pack them up to his room. It also gave him some "folding money" as my dad used to say. I got him up to his room and told him he could choose which of the two king beds he wanted to sleep in! He said he was headed to the shower. I left him alone.
Late the next day, I checked on him, and Morgan said he left, then came back and picked up his bags and he had found a ride for his journey.
I called the sheriff's office the following day to inquire what services the county offered to help folks like Raymond who need a hand. I was reassured that they are trained to respond with compassion to assist folks in need. I had no hesitance in helping Raymond out because I could not have lived with myself had I driven by, done nothing and then saw in the paper that a body had been found at Johnson Creek Road. I have no idea of how many folks drove past him. What I will do the next time, is stop and ask the same questions. Then I will call the sheriff's office and stay with the person until the officer arrives. I would then make the introduction to take away the fear and threat of a police encounter. I would still check the next day to make sure everything went well. Just a random act of kindness.
Walt Bolton is a retired education and longtime Crook County resident.
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