Jan. 12, 2020

The Roadside Man

When I was younger, I would sometimes work for a nursing agency Per Diem. Most of my agency calls were for out of town about an hour and a half away as they did not like to assign us in our local facilities.

Many of those calls had me drive through several really small, rinky-dink towns so small, they had one stoplight in the middle of their town. They were very rural.

I had an unusual experience during a drive-thru in one particular town. It was always during daylight hours. On the edge of town, I would see a man standing on the side of the road with a bag at his feet. He would stand there and watch the cars as they went by. I considered that he was waiting for his ride to work. He was dressed in blue jeans, a polo style shirt, and a pair of work boots. Maybe a construction worker or someone related to that field.

I felt bad for him to be living in such a small town that, obviously, he worked outside of it and didn’t have a way to get there. I often thought I might stop and ask if he needed a lift, but either he wasn’t there when I went by or I’d be in a hurry and didn’t have time to stop.

There was something a little off about the whole situation. Then I noticed, whenever I did see him, he was always going to work. If I were coming through at 7 in the morning from working the graveyard shift, or coming back from a 7-3 shift in the afternoon, I might see him standing there waiting in the same spot with the bag at his feet watching the traffic as if he were waiting for his ride.

Even though it started to creep me out, it wasn’t what bothered me the most. I was having a hard time putting my finger on it, though. Then I noticed he wore the same clothes every day. I maybe could have passed it off and said that I was just passing him on the same day he had decided to wear those clothes again. After all, I didn’t work every day for the agency nor did I see him every time I passed by, either. But I’m not much for coincidences.

The last two times that I went by him, just before I quit working for the nursing agency, it dawned on me what was more strange than him always looking for a ride or wearing the same clothes each time I saw him. It was how he always looked so solid upon my approach. However, when I drove past, he looked opaque. I could see through him. It wasn’t until then that I realized he was a ghost.