by John Syvertson on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 2:58pm •
I saw an abandoned car along the road today and wondered what the story was of the owner. The license plate said Wyoming. It seems that since the oil boom hit about 18 months ago, I am seeing a lot of license plates from cars that are from 49 of the 50 states. Our towns and neighborhoods are doubling and tripling in size in a matter of weeks and months.
Only last year, I met someone who had one of those pickup trucks sitting beside the road to that was disabled. And his story made me look at these abandoned vehicles in a different light.
“Scott” and his family moved here from the eastern part of the United States. Actually moved here isn’t the proper term, but they ended up in the area. Scott had a successful career as a mechanic and owned his own business in the town he lived in. He and his family bought a new house and were very comfortable. Then the poor economy hit and Scott’s business dried up and he eventually lost his home through the housing market.
Scott heard that there were jobs in the oil fields of North Dakota so he loaded up his family and what little they had of their worldly possessions that were not sold off to keep food in their bodies. Within 500 miles of their former home, their transmission went out on their truck and Scott limped into a Wal-Mart parking lot to see how the vehicle could be repaired. With little money to buy a new or used transmission, Scott repaired the transmission in a corner of the Wal-Mart parking lot over the next few days.
Finally Scott and his family arrived in town with no job, very little money but prayers that there would be work in the oil fields. And Scott did find work and was successfully employed with a new home, a new church home and hope for the future.
Over the last 18 months I have seen a lot of people who have been in Scott’s position. Last winter I also met a young man who just came back from serving in Iraq. He came from Maine, and his clothes were thread bare. He arrived on my doorstep to shovel my walk from the snow of the night before. With holes in his gloves, coat, and shoes he didn’t want a hand out, but rather wanted to work to earn a living for himself and his family.
What’s the story behind those who come through our doors, or those who are in cars, tents, campers and other temporary dwelling situations? In some ways it reminds me of the book the Grapes of Wrath where individuals were traveling through hoping and praying to earn a good and honest living.
Many of these folks that we may see as strangers are just like us. They love their families and want to earn an honest wage anyway they can. Many will bring families with them who are indeed also caring towards their family and others. I have stopped to visit with some of these folks and their stories have moved me. Like Robert Frost, I took the road less traveled and it has made all the difference in the world.