Great lunch! Jay promised that Richmond has good food. Says somebody must have started making better food and then all the restaurants in town got going to complete. Well, I loved my tuna tacos in I don’t know what but that’s some kind of good sauce. We took a long lunch, relaxed, and decided to find a local motel to crash for the night and wander about to see what we can find.
First, though, I needed to do something about my 40 lb bag that was starting to feel like 40 lbs. I declared I was ready for a backpack, so at the advice of another server at the restaurant, we headed off for a Barnes and Noble at VCU. I figured I’d end up with a VCU backpack, but it had to be better than lugging around my 40 lb bag. The largest backpack I could find was a bright blue plaid bag that made Jay nervous. “At least no one will steal it,” I explained. Thankfully, we found another one, even larger and with only a couple gaudy yellow stripes. Onward!
It was a lovely walk to VCU, through an old neighborhood with mature trees, gorgeous houses, and brick everywhere. I pointed out some of the old buildings that, 100 years ago, were stables, for you can tell by the barn-sized doors and often a chimney in an odd place. Think of all the horses and hay right in a city back then. A mess. Perfect day for a walk, mild, slight breeze, and only 40 lbs to lug around, now in three not just two bags. Jay honed in on the “Budget” motel on his Iphone, and we tramped along. As we approached the interstate, as it is in such areas, the neighborhoods turned industrial or just downward, and we were okay with that, since that’s where we thought we should be.
We crossed over the highway — I love bridges — and walked past Virginia Union College, a seminary or university with a tremendous, Victorian house at its center, and otherwise in the middle of nowhere. Onward, until we saw it, yes, the Budget motel. Crossing the street, we stepped into the lot of a typical motel layout, long, thin building with parking spaces in front of each room. Only it was just a little weird, and it wasn’t just the broken windows, or even the old mattresses thrown on the lot, or the sad, sagging roof. But there were cars parked there, and a couple at the office window. Jay and I shrugged to each other, and stepped in line behind this couple who were most animated about something while talking through a bank-tellers bullet-proof window. Now, shrugs turned decisive and we nodded to each other, “let’s get out of here.” The decision was affirmed by the two souped-up, solid-white, dark windows Mercedes parked outside one of the rooms, looking most appropriate there for all the wrong reasons.
We took a seat around the corner in some grass, and while Jay scoured Yelp for the next motel, I relocated 30 lbs of baggage into the new backpack. It kinda fit. The next motel was clean and had a beautifully new looking roof, with painted doors and, best of all, a police station next door. We checked in, and then out again in minutes. The manager, the son of the owner, was a kindly soul, and a bit confused about our mission when Jay asked him if he knew of anyone who could use a little help. Mid-life crisis, we explained, while he explained that cigarette air is normal for motels of this class. We left without asking for a refund, hoping he’d enjoy the tip. Jay booked a room for us at a full service hotel downtown…
Now more organized with my bags, rested and enjoying the apple Jay gave me (Tony this morning was so happy to have gotten one, too!), we headed back towards the city. The road was your basic four-lane highway with auto shops and businesses alongside. We talked about who we might find and where. Perfectly tuned to the discussion was Sam’s New and Used Tires, with five cars out front, all of them looking for help. We went into the office to speak w/ the manager, who, we thought, might know who among his customers could use a little help. No manager, so I wandered into the garage where a few men were busy with tires and rims and other customers. Jay stepped out, looking a bit tired and feeling hot in his blue jeans, when a woman stepped out of an old van that was jacked up to fix a tire. “Here,” she said, handing him a Pepsi, “you look thirsty. Have this.”
Wow! Jay and I both knew exactly what was next: could this be better? She was a bit ragged and so nice, seeing him tired and offering a drink, and us, we were the ones here to help! The conversation turned to their van, their destination, and she said they hunt ghosts, and that they were on the way to North Carolina to film a show for A&E about the ghosts they were to trap. She said that it’s science, that matter never disappears, that it just changes forms and that ghosts are another form that we usually can’t see. Best of all, she quoted from the same passage that Jay put on our calling cards, to which he just smiled and happily explained to her that he’d like to help out if she’d just take this envelope and read the card inside. She was stunned, and as she caught on to what was happening she effused thanks and talked about giving back and getting back.
We left right away, so happy and laughing that it wasn’t possible that on our mission to give to others, a stranger offered to help us. Coincidence?
Hardly, at least you’ll not convince Jay otherwise.