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Hitchhiker Along a Lonely Utah Highway {format} {format} 4:10 Scott Carrier

A middle-aged man with a sad, lonely tale.

Broadcast: Jul 10 2006 on NPR Day to Day Subjects: Travel

A Hitchhiker Along a Lonely Utah Highway

July 10, 2006 from Day To Day

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 truckerís assistant, but two and a half months ago, heíd 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 auntís house in Sacramento. He said heíd been hitchhiking for 18 days, and had started out with $150.00 - but that was gone - and that he hadnít slept or eaten in three days, but it didnít matter. He shouldíve 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, butÖ

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 thatís 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 thatís 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.

Itís 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 thereís going to be a sign given to me. I might now know what yet, but itís going to be some type of sign thatís going to be given to me, to know what Iím supposed to do before itís my time to go.

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

Mr. CALLAHAN: I donít know. I mean, I know about Noahís Ark and everything like that, because itís all written in the Bible, what happened. And itís awful strange, that - but it says that in the end of our times, thereíd be rumors of wars, and many wars developing. And then, in fact, weíre 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 theyíre making money off of war - and thatís how they think they got to survive, and thatís 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 donít see why in the world we had to stick our nose where it donít belong, and I donít understand it - and hereís my road, by the way. Thatís where I Ė fourteenís the roadÖ

Mr. CARRIER: Do you want to go to 50?

Mr. CALLAHAN: No, itís 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, Iím going to go that way, Cedar City.

Mr. CARRIER: I didnít 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 ďPeople Get ReadyĒ)

Unknown female: (singing) People get ready, thereís a train a-coming. You donít need no baggage, you just get onboard.

BRAND: Writer Scott Carrier is part of the radio collective

(Soundbite of ďPeople Get ReadyĒ)

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 themÖYou donít need no baggage, you just get onboard.

BRAND: Stay with us, thereís more to come on NPRís DAY TO DAY.