I drive a sweet van. A GMC Safari that my mom has driven from Florida to the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and back a few times. She also drove it to California, Ohio, the grocery store and elsewhere. It is silver with tinted windows, and I know I look good behind the wheel. Anybody would. Most of the time my bike is in the back, and maybe some golf clubs, yoga mats, and a dozen empty water bottles. I call it the mobile toy-box. Some people call it the Turtle or the Shovel. This weekend it will be an art collection vehicle in New Orleans for some friends. It will return full of glitter, scraps of fabric, and coffee cups. It makes me happy to loan it to my friends who dare to do great things like make art.
What does not make me happy about it is driving around town looking at my Tallahassee neighbors standing in the heat waiting for the buses, which can take 45 minutes in some parts of town. I don’t like passing people by who are walking my way on long, two lane roads peppered with decomposing opossum and sand-spurs. The conversation in my head goes something like this;
It sure looks hot out there. Those people are hating it, and that old man looks like he might fold right over his walker and pass out. I could load them all up and take them wherever they need to go. People will think that is weird, and it will likely scare them, or make them feel suspicious. I better just keep on rolling.
That’s what I do, I keep on rolling. And yet I remember standing at a border crossing on the line between Slovenia and Austria in the middle of the night, desperate for a ride to catch the Croatian bus that abandoned me when I went to the bathroom in the station. Cramped by intestinal disease, dizzy from a stomach emptied by violent retching and diarrhea, my foot bandaged and bloody with 14 stitches received the day before, I had a few seconds to beg in a foreign language to each passing car to take me with them. Hundreds passed me within the first hour. A blue mini-van driven by a woman with blonde hair and tired eyes looked at me and turned to an elderly gentleman in the backseat and he nodded. A toddler was buckled into the bench seat next to the man.
She waved me around to the passenger seat.
What to do?