Phil, Thanks For The Push
Howdy, Neighbor. People have been telling Phil he’s a good storyteller for a long time… so we are trying something new and pretty-much non-sales Just sharing occasional sweet stories, tall tales, and life lessons learned around these parts. Northwoods Notes are a new, semi-bi-irregular peek into the heart and mind of Phil Frasier… you can read or listen… whichever you prefer… and you are receiving a copy because you’re a current customer of Frasier’s Plumbing and Heating, Inc. We think you’ll like them, but you can unsubscribe any time by clicking on the link at the bottom. But we hope you give us a chance!
Joanna and I recently attended her dad’s 80th birthday party when someone approached me and asked, “Phil, did you really hitchhike from Rhinelander to Chicago to see Joanna when she was at Bible college?”
Without hesitation, I proudly replied, “Yeah, I did.”
That journey was surprisingly smooth. My magically motivating thumb was working wonders as kind soul after kind soul picked me up and dropped me off at various exits.
That is, until the magic wore off and I soon found myself walking for what felt like an eternity.
Then, like a beacon on a foggy night, a massive semi-truck rumbled by and pulled over. As I climbed up into the cab, the trucker bluntly asked if I had drugs.
When I said I didn’t, he said, “Crap.”
That’s right, neighbor, I was riding shotgun with someone who shouldn’t have been behind the wheel. When he wasn’t popping pills, he was nodding off. So I became his unofficial co-pilot whose sole responsibility was to keep him awake.
Against all odds, my stoned chauffeur took me all the way to Chicago. As dawn broke, he dropped me off about a mile from Joanna’s school. I quickly thanked him and hopped out of that truck faster than I’ve ever hopped before.
Being with Joanna in Chicago was like being in a big romantic snow globe. We strolled by Lake Michigan surrounded by snowflakes the size of cotton candy. Rabbits were frolicking, the lake shimmering, and Joanna and I were kissing. It was pure magic.
That whole day was spent in blissful togetherness, but with no place to stay the night, I dusted off my magic thumb so that I could hitchhike back home.
Little did I know, that return trip would be even more adventurous.
At one point, I was dropped off at an exit during a whiteout without proper winter gear. A cop approached and insisted I leave the interstate. As I was perched on an overpass awaiting my next ride, a dramatic scene unfolded below—an out-of-control car spun out on the interstate and landed in a ditch. I rushed down to help and pushed the shaken driver back onto the road. Turns out, this driver was none other than Robert Pence, a famous artist from Door County, Wisconsin.
Robert gave me a ride about an hour and a half from home.
Years later, during a visit to Door County, my mom recognized his name and visited his gallery, where he graciously gifted me an incredible print accompanied by a simple note that said, “Phil, Thanks for the push.”
It was a surreal connection to a frozen moment in time.
As I look back on that hitchhiking trip, I’m thankful for the hundreds of hours I had spent in the great outdoors… because, honestly, cold weather didn’t really bother me. Was it cold? Yes. Were there times that I questioned whether the trip was worth it? You bet.
But Joanna was so different than any girl I’d ever known, and I just wanted to be with her. She wasn’t wild. She wasn’t a party animal. She was an amazing young lady who loved the Lord… and she happened to have the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. Seriously. The first time I ever saw her, my first thought was, “Wow, she has really pretty eyes.”
Anyway, I hadn’t thought about any of that until someone inquired about hitchhiking at that 80th birthday party.
So… thanks for asking, neighbor.
P.S. – This all happened back in the early ’80s. I wouldn’t recommend hitchhiking today… especially with a stoned trucker. Just sayin’.
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