“We have been walking for nine days and have walked over 100 miles so far. We are trying to get to Tennessee to see my niece. I haven’t seen her in 11 years and I made her a promise on the phone that I would get there. We have been homeless for a year and don’t have a car, so we are walking. We started out with $365 and everything we own is in this buggy.
I was working for a mechanic and we were sleeping in the back of a car and that was working out fine until the pay got less and less and we realized we couldn’t live like that any more. It is expensive to live in Florida. I have family in Tennessee and I want to live in the mountains and find more work. There is nothing I can’t do. I am a mechanic and can do roofing, drywall and painting.
It’s not as easy as you would think to get a ride. People read the sign and drive by, some shake their heads at us. Some people pull over, then take off when we get to the car. I have been hit with diapers as a car drove by. People have thrown out candy wrappers and chip bags at us. One man said ‘You want this money?’ and tore it up in front of us. Other people have been kind and give us rides and buy us food. She has diabetes and walking is hard on her. I make sure she eats first and I have already bought her three pairs of shoes at Dollar Generals because I have to take care of her and her feet. We have been walking for four hours this morning and were praying for a ride when you pulled up.”
(From Dec. 18, 2015. I share this story at Christmas every year because it was the first of many heart-shaking moments that Souls would give me. I thought the worst of people behind the cardboard signs and avoided them or looked the other way. I learned how wrong I was. It was also the first time I heard the Souls voice say “them.”
This was the first and last time I picked up hitchhikers and promised my husband I would never do that again. I put them on a Greyhound bus to Tennessee. I don’t know what happened to them but their sign still hangs next to my desk.)