Monday, January 28, 2008

I pick up hitchhikers.  I have a couple of reasons.  One is that I have this fear that one day I'll stand in front of Jesus, and he'll say, "Remember that hitchhiker you blew by that day when it was raining and 40 degrees*?  Well that was me.  Get over there on the left with the goats!"  The other reason is this fascination I have with stories.  Hitchhikers often have fantastic stories.   I mean "fantastic" in both senses of the word.

I've encountered some hitchhikers who were truly delightful traveling companions.  Quite a few seem to be sincere brothers in Christ.  (It's not always easy to tell though.  Apparently, they get preached at a lot, so some of them have a strategy of avoiding the sermon by striking first with some stock Christian phrases.)

Quite a few are drug addicts or alcoholics of course; and a significant percentage are certifiably loony.  Those are the ones with the best stories.  I picked up one like that in Meridian last Saturday.   He claimed,to have brought about, pretty much single-handedly, the downfall of the Soviet Union.  He once found that he was on a KGB hit list, so he obtained his own list of their top 100 assasins and disposed of every single one of them within a week's time.  Jason Bourne would be envious!

Every time we passed a church he told me that it was built on property stolen from him.  He said that he had a degree in theology.  He went to Bible school for a week he said, and all they talked about was how to steal money from people.  So after a week he got Ronald Reagan to call the school and persuade them to let him go ahead and take the final exam for his degree, which he passed with flying colors.  Whenever he talked about preachers he strung together every expletive I'd ever heard.  (And I used to work the oil fields, so I've probably heard most of them.)

At some point in the conversation, he mentioned Angola, pausing to explain to me that it was the Louisiana State penitentiary and that it had a really rough reputation.  

I interrupted him. "I know.  I've been there.  I was on death row,"  I said being deliberately vague.

For the first time on the journey he interrupted his monologue and turned to look at me.  "You were on death row in Angola?" he asked.  There was undisguised respect in in his voice.

I thought it was time to drop the bomb.  "Yes, but not as a prisoner.  As a preacher."   I waited for a reaction.  

There was none, other than maybe disappointment.  "Oh.  You're a preacher."  Then he picked up where he had left off.

Here are some of the other highlights:
  • Hillary Clinton wanted to have sex with him to get Bill back.  He nobly refused.
  • He had killed more than 6,000 people, but they were all murderers and deserved it.
  • The FBI had paid him 39 million dollars for his work, but he couldn't collect his money till he retired, which was one month away.
  • He didn't claim to be a Christian, but from his study of scripture, he had concluded that Jehovah is Jesus' Father, and the Holy Spirit is Jehovah's parents.
I didn't say much, other than an occasional "Hmmm,"  or, "Is that right?"  After a couple of hours like this, he finally said, "You think I'm totally crazy don't you?"

I smiled and said, "I haven't decided whether you're crazy or just a good storyteller."   He briefly protested that it was all true then resumed the monologue.

I offered him some food, but he said he had some already.  He asked if I could pay for him to get a motel room.  I declined.  I figured I was safe; by this point I was pretty sure he wasn't Jesus.

*A note to my European friends:  We're talking about fahrenheit here. 


Zechariah said...

that's the best story i've heard this week.

Rachel said...

Wow. He sounds like a paranoid schizophrenic. What a story!

I didn't know you had been to Angola. Andy went there too, as part of his public-interest work in law school.

Solepsis said...

40 degrees Celsius is also unpleasant... nearly 100 farenheit

kosovacajun said...

Good point, solepsis. It it was 40C and raining, it would be like a jacuzzi!

kosovacajun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kosovacajun said...

You know, something has been bothering me since I published this post. The ending is all wrong. To say I was sure by now that he wasn't Jesus is to miss the whole point of "the least of these". I'm sure that mentally ill people like this guy are exactly the kind of people Jesus was talking about. I thought about re-writing the ending, but I've decided that maybe it's more honest to leave it as it is with this disclaimer in the comments.

kosovacajun said...

Zechariah: Thanks dude!

Rachel: Angola was an unforgettable experience. I spent a good bit of time talking to this convert to Islam named Hakim. He wanted to debate, and at first I took the bait. After a while, I realized that we weren't getting anywhere, so I stopped and said, "Hakim, I didn't come to here to try to win an argument. Do you know why I came here?"

"Why?" he asked.

"I came here because I'm going to heaven, and I was hoping you could be my roommate."

He teared up.

I wish I knew what happened to him. He may have been executed by now. That was back in '97 I guess.

Embracing Enlightenment said...

this story truly made me smile. kinda also makes me want to pick up hitchhikers.