Mar. 24, 2017

Groundhog Night

I was at work one day and one of the electrical workers came in to talk. I can’t remember his real name but everyone called him Jaws on account of his very thick chin, like Jay Leno’s. While sitting at my desk Jaws shared with me something that had just happened to him the previous weekend.

“I had gone home to visit the wife and kids and on the way there, I had the strangest thing happen to me. I had decided to take a different route because of the traffic. I knew if I went through our town I would probably run into heavy traffic, as it was a Friday night. Instead, I went around the long way and took all the back roads and state routes that lead out to our farm so I wouldn’t have to deal with the frustration of other drivers.

“As I’m going down this empty patch of road around nine O’clock at night, I noticed an old man walking on the side. He had a cane and was a little hunched over from age. He had one of the humps on his back, you know, from being old. Anyway, I pulled up alongside of him, rolled down the window and asked if he needed a ride anywhere.”

“You know you shouldn’t pick up hitchhikers,” I stated casually. “Remember Pee Wee Gaskins? He used to pick up hitchers and then kill them.”

“Yeah, I know,” Jaws conceded, “But it was a dark highway and there wasn’t another house for miles. I didn’t want him out there by himself; he was old. He didn’t stop walking but he did look up at me and wave his cane like he was acknowledging me or something. I remember he had a toothless grin, too.”

“He didn’t speak?” I asked.

“No, he didn’t say anything. He just kept walking. It was almost like he didn’t really understand me even though I asked him twice before giving up trying to help. As I drove off, I kind of laughed to myself that maybe he was a ghost and that was why he didn’t seem to understand me.

“Anyway, about ten or fifteen minutes later, I see him again. This time, he’s ahead of me. No cars had passed me so I know he didn’t get a ride and then get dropped off, but here he was, ahead of me. I slowed down as I passed to get a good look and make sure it was the same guy, and it was. He looked up, raised his cane hello and grinned at me with that same toothless smile.”

I sat up and leaned on the desk as I laughed. “Get out of here, Jaws! You’re pulling my leg.”

Jaws shook his head, “No, no, I’m serious. I drove on past. As I was going, I paid particular attention to my surroundings. There was a light pole about 100 feet to my left that apparently was going to have some utility work done on it because it had a big neon orange mark on it. I was kind of like marking my area like someone who is lost in the woods might do by marking a tree, only the light pole was already marked. The rest of the highway all looked the same so that pole was important for me to keep up with in case it happened again.

“Just as I was thinking my turn was coming up; the same thing happened again. I passed the old man; he waved his cane, smiled and kept going. I looked for the light pole that was supposed to be about 100 feet away and there was the same light pole I had mentally marked with the same big neon orange mark from some utility worker. I started to panic and think that maybe I was just too tired having worked all day and then drove all afternoon to get home.”

I shook my head in disbelief. “I have had some weird experiences, too, but nothing like that.”

“The road kept on a straight path. The intersection I was to turn at never came up so when it happened a fourth time, I started to really freak out,” Jaws went on. “This time, I did a 3-point turn in the middle of the highway and headed back in the other direction. The old man, who should have literally been walking by me, again, had vanished. He had totally disappeared! I started driving in the opposite direction to see if I could get out of this crazy groundhog night.”

“Apparently, you succeeded,” I concluded as he was sitting across from me telling the story.

“Yeah, I did,” Jaws agreed as he rubbed his forehead, “The other strange thing was when I finally got home, it was almost 9:30, but it should have been much later than that. I had driven past that old man and had spent at least an hour driving that same highway at least four times. However, no time had lapsed. It was as if I was in a different dimension until I finally turned around and went back in the other direction.”

Through the years, I occasionally think of that story Jaws told me. From time-to-time I wondered if he really were just telling me a fantastic story or did that really happen to him. That was twenty years ago and I have yet, until now, shared that story with anyone.

The reason I share it now is because I’m on a Facebook page that features true –life ghost stories and events. One of the members in the group shared a story almost identical to this one with just a little variation to the tale. At first, I thought it was Jaws retelling his story and I had accidently stumbled upon him until I realized it was a female member and not a man sharing the experience. Unlike Jaws who was alone when this happened, this young lady was with friends of hers.

Others have commented on her post and mentioned they, too, shared similar experiences, also with slight variations. Having read all of their comments, I’m going to go out on a limb in saying, my friend Jaws, really did experience a groundhog night.