The Fruit Stand

Do you listen to your inner voice?

The young girl turned towards me and asked, “What can I get you?” “A bag of corn,” I replied. The sack was overflowing with a dozen fresh ears just picked this morning.  I grabbed the bulging bag with two hands to prevent the plastic from tearing and turned towards a pair of bicyclists standing near the fruit stand. “Where have you come from?” I asked.  “California,” the man answered. “Where are you heading?” “Boston,” he replied. I told him I would pray for a safe ride and tossed my corn in the back of the car and headed off.

As I drove off I hoped there would be no rain for the cyclists that night.  Something, however, told me to stop. I checked my mirror and headed back to the fruit stand.  Both riders were straddling their bikes that were covered with well-worn gear. The man was studying a laminated map on his handlebar bag and the woman was patiently waiting with her bike pointed towards Buffalo, 80 miles to our right. I pulled up next to him and leaned over the corn on my passenger seat. “I live about 20 miles ahead if you need a place to stay for the night?” I said.  He looked at me and nodded. “Turn left at the first road past twenty-mile creek and go through the gate. My wife and I live in the green house.”  He nodded and answered: ”We would like that.”  We exchanged names, and I gave him my cell number.  “If you see a sign saying entering New York State you missed the turn.” He nodded again.

Later that day my wife and I were outside working in the garden when I heard someone call out, “Joe?”  I stood up and took off my hat and work gloves.  Ann reached out her hand: “Thank-you for offering us a place to stay.”  Walt came over and after introductions to my wife we headed inside. Later that evening after several hours of rest and relaxation we talked about their 51 days on the road and our chance meeting at the fruit stand. I explained how an inner voice had told me to turn around and invite them for the night. He said his wife had asked if he had a good feeling about me. He said yes and after eating they decided to take me up on the invitation. We shared stories and dreams over dinner and ate as much of the corn as we could. This was their second bike trip across the US. Walt was a retired National Park Ranger and Ann, a retired teacher. We watched the sun set, promised to meet again and headed off to bed.  I woke early the next day and headed to the hospital for morning rounds while my wife cooked them breakfast. She offered another rest day but they said yesterday was just what they needed. A light rain fell as they turned east on Route 5.

When was the last time intuition spoke, and you remained silent.  Heroes who save the lives of another are often asked why they reacted as they did. They seldom have an answer.  Each of us must find the courage of awareness to see and listen within. We are models for our children who must learn never to dance in slow motion. Listening and responding to our inner voice strengthens us and enriches the lives of others.

On that mid summer day, something about Walt spoke to me and me to him. A fleeting moment changed our lives and was captured forever.  Walt and Ann, ride safely.  You will be remembered.