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A Hitchhiker Along a Lonely Utah Highway
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A Hitchhiker Along a Lonely Utah Highway

A Hitchhiker Along a Lonely Utah Highway

A Hitchhiker Along a Lonely Utah Highway
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A few weeks ago, writer and independent radio producer Scott Carrier gave a ride to a middle-aged man he saw limping along a Utah highway. Carrier shares the story of the unusual hitchhiker and his sad, lonely tale — and also the spark of hope he still carries.

Mr. SCOTT CARRIER (Writer): He was walking slowly north, along Highway 89, in southern Utah - a tall man, mid-50s, with a small backpack and a sunburnt face.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Writer Scott Carrier, sent us this story about a hitchhiker he met in Utah.

Mr. CARRIER: His left leg could only bend backwards at the knee, so he walked by swinging it out wide, in a semi-circle, and then riding it like a spring. It was painful to watch, so I gave him a ride.

(Soundbite of Moving Car)

Mr. CARRIER: His name was Jerry Callahan(ph), and he was a little crazed, kind of ranting. He said he was a trucker's assistant, but two and a half months ago, he'd been attacked by men with baseball bats, at a truck-stop outside Mobile, Alabama. He spent 60 days in the hospital, and now he was on his way home to his aunt's house in Sacramento. He said he'd been hitchhiking for 18 days, and had started out with $150.00 - but that was gone - and that he hadn't slept or eaten in three days, but it didn't matter. He should've been dead, but Jesus saved him, he said, for a reason that had not yet been revealed to him.

What do you remember of being attacked? You said you reached up, they grabbed, you, but…

Mr. CALLAHAN (Hitchhiker): I was going - I put the key in the door handle. I was going to open it. I had my arm come up to handle to get up the steps of the truck, and that's when I got grabbed behind my back. I got tossed back down to the pavement, and as I looked up, they were swinging clubs at me, left to right. I put everything over my head, but that's why they shattered my elbow, crushed my wrist. I got three broken bones there. I got a bone out of my shoulder, and they hit me three times across my left leg, and I guess the pain was so severe, I must have passed out.

It's sad, but true, but I had to pray for them people. Although they tried to kill me, I still had to pray for them. That way, God might touch their hearts and change their ways of life, instead of having somebody else out there getting killed and hurt. And I know there's going to be a sign given to me. I might now know what yet, but it's going to be some type of sign that's going to be given to me, to know what I'm supposed to do before it's my time to go.

Mr. CARRIER: So you have hope? You have hope for the future?

Mr. CALLAHAN: I don't know. I mean, I know about Noah's Ark and everything like that, because it's all written in the Bible, what happened. And it's awful strange, that - but it says that in the end of our times, there'd be rumors of wars, and many wars developing. And then, in fact, we're going through it right now. You got the Twin Towers and all that that took place.

Now you got all this deal with Iran and Iraq and everything. But I think that somewhere up there, the big shots think they have to survive on money value, because they're making money off of war - and that's how they think they got to survive, and that's the sad part about it. And meanwhile, innocent people, American people, are dying each day, each month, because of them. The same routine, and I don't see why in the world we had to stick our nose where it don't belong, and I don't understand it - and here's my road, by the way. That's where I - fourteen's the road…

Mr. CARRIER: Do you want to go to 50?

Mr. CALLAHAN: No, it's 14. I made a mistake. See Cedar City? I got to go that way, Cedar City.

Mr. CARRIER: You sure you want to go this way?

Mr. CALLAHAN: Yup, I'm going to go that way, Cedar City.

Mr. CARRIER: I didn't like where I dropped him off, a small highway that went up and over some snow-covered mountains. But he had a train track in his head that went home that way, and nothing was going to stop him, except if he died somewhere along the way, which he may have.

(Soundbite of “People Get Ready”)

Unknown female: (singing) People get ready, there's a train a-coming. You don't need no baggage, you just get onboard.

BRAND: Writer Scott Carrier is part of the radio collective hearingvoices.com.

(Soundbite of “People Get Ready”)

Unknown female: (singing) People get ready, for the train to Jordan. Picking up passengers, from coast to coast. Faith is the key, open the doors and board them…You don't need no baggage, you just get onboard.

BRAND: Stay with us, there's more to come on NPR's DAY TO DAY.

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