People on the Highway

I’m trying out a new path home from work.  As a semi-professional liar storyteller person, the new route is amazing.  It is peak Colorado front range.  I see cattle pastures, oil derricks, corn fields, industrial concrete recycling, small town schools, manufacturing plants that smell funny (likely because they are next to giant giant mounds of fresh fertilizer, but that is beside the point).  I see a new story setting every five minutes.  I am very much enjoying the new path.  Another thing it has going for it; very few other people on the road.

Consisting mostly of side roads, I don’t have to deal with too many Honda sedans with a texting driver at the wheel.  The standard situation for Honda sedans in Colorado at least.

Today, I had company on the commute and this is her story.

Today’s tale: Sunny

On my right, an oil rig that will not come to life until after dark.  On my left, cows.  Cows are sort of freaky in the late afternoon sun light, because they’re all eating facing the same direction.  I try not to think of the cows too much, because, frankly, once I start thinking of the herds ability to pull this communal feast feat off I feel really bad about my love for cheeseburgers.  As a former vegetarian, this is usual an existential dread moment.

Thankfully, there’s a ready made distraction about a quarter mile ahead of me.  A gray Ford Focus is making its way down this back country road known only by a number.  No one dead wants their name put on something so remote, so the county is sticking with numbers and hoping the post office can figure it out.  The Focus is collecting the rays of the falling sun exactly right to appear as little more than a bright, speedy dot ahead of me. This is one sunny afternoon and one sunny car.

At the wheel is someone who could readily be described as sunny as well.  Sam “Shrimp” Swanson is heading home from work.  She does a 6 to 2 shift as a quality inspector at a near by dairy plant.  She’s been there about three months and has not quite yet hit the “this is it?” part of employment.  She never hits that point.  She always finds something new, something fun, something to keep her excited about the day.

Four months ago she was let go from a bank.  Her coworkers, also receiving pink slips and a big “thanks” from corporate leadership, took the news of the branch’s closure with anger in their hearts.  Sam smiled and wonder what was coming next.

She’s always been that sort of light in a dark place.  Family tragedy; losing a sibling when she was a teenager, a bankruptcy right out of college, her oldest child going through divorce recently, she is no stranger to this sort of horrid ordeal, but remains oddly positive.  “We’ll work hard to get through this.” “This is a great opportunity.” “We will take the lessons learned and emerge stronger.” Some of her favorite phrases.  When she says them, people do not hear a tacky office place poster.  They hear a friend telling them the dark will go away.

Sam is driving home to great her two cats, a bird, her grandchildren, her oldest daughter, and a husband she has been with for thirty-seven years.  She’ll great her family in that exact order.  Sam is such a warm presence, even cats will show excitement to be near her.

Such is the way of Sam.  She’s a light.

Right now though, she’s blinding me with a rear window that catches the sun at exactly the worst possible angle and I’m pretty sure I’m going to careen into the Platte and any moment.



Thanks for reading!
People on the Highway Volumes 1 and 2 are available right here:



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