Vinson: Epiphany on the highway

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For my first column of the year 2014, I had intended to write short review of a story a friend shared with me about some gritty bootlegger relatives who, years ago, behaved rather wildly in the Cannon County-Dekalb County areas. Think of it as the iconic movie Thunder Road meets the popular television series Justified.

I have elected, though, to put that one the back burner because, well, I experienced an "epiphany" that, for lack of better terminology, jarred my senses and greatly humbled me in the process.

It was New Year's Eve 2013, and I had just given this same friend-one with the butt-kicking, hand-written story about some bootlegging relatives-a ride back to his residence. He had handed over to me his notebook and given me clearance to write as I desired.

However, at this point, I suppose I need to back up just a bit in order for all this to make sense.
It was Saturday, December 28, 2013, and I had given this same friend a ride to the same residence. It was about 8:30 p.m., a cold rain coming down, and I was returning home to watch what I could of the Breaking Bad marathon on television's AMC channel.

Visibility was extremely poor, and I was driving at snail speed-and thank the Lord I was driving slowly!
There, walking on the very edge of the road were a grown man, a grown woman, and what appeared to be a young boy, maybe 10 years-old, the woman pushing a carriage, which, I surmise, could've held an infant child as a passenger.

The scary part was they had absolutely no form of light or reflector with which to warn vehicular traffic of their presence on the road.

My initial, gut reaction was to hit the blinker, pull over, and offer them lift. However, I decided against it because, let's face facts, in this day-and-time, one can't be sure what he might be getting himself into by offering rides to complete strangers: mugged, attacked, hustled, etc.

Therefore, after slowing down, I hit the gas and kept moving. I recall thinking to myself, "Those poor people, waking in the cold rain with youngsters in tow. I pray that someone doesn't run over them." I'll admit I experienced an inward struggle of guilt versus self preservation after driving off.

Now, back to New Year's Eve 2013…

As mentioned, I had given a ride to the friend who'd shared with me the bootlegging story. (It's a dandy, too!) It was about 5:30 p.m., and night had fallen. Although it wasn't raining, it was uncomfortably cold outside.

Lo and behold, at almost the exact same spot I saw the man, young boy, and woman pushing the carriage in the freezing rain a few days earlier, I beheld a less-than-healthy-looking man, no light or reflector, traveling on the edge of the road in a motorized wheelchair. Once again, I thought, "Lord, have mercy! Someone's going to run over him!"
I could be stretching here, but it was as if some unseen force was trying to provide with greater insight-an "epiphany"-regarding the more important things in life.

So, readers, those two sad, unnerving incidents left me choice but to share this story with you.
That said, be thankful you survived another year, have a roof over your head, have a car to drive, and have food in the refrigerator.

It's all too easy to get on a high-horse and take for granted those things with which we've been blessed. I imagine a long, nighttime walk or wheelchair ride on a much-traveled road in the winter cold would buck most of us off our high-horse and down to ground-floor reality.

Happy 2014!

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