Barrington, NH, Woman Picks Up 74-Year-Old Hitchhiking Vietnam Vet, and Now They’re Email Buddies
I love a story about unlikely camaraderie. Sometimes we find friendships in the most unsuspecting places. This story is proof that you are never too old to make new friends.
Resha from Barrington was driving along Route 4, heading west towards Concord. It was a crisp fall day in New Hampshire, and the leaves were at their peak prettiness. Resha was out running errands when she spotted a gentleman who appeared to be in his mid 70's sitting on the side of the road. He had about five bags with him, and was holding up a cardboard sign with the word "Rutland" written on it.
Resha looked at him as she drove by, but continued about her day. She drove passed that same spot a few more times, and every time she did, she spotted the man holding up his sign. There was something about his appearance that resonated with her. His eyes looked kind.
Though she didn't have time to drive to Rutland, Vermont, and back, she wanted to help him in some small way. She decided that she would bring the man some nourishment. Resha went home and made a sandwich and threw it in a bag. She also tossed in some cheese sticks, cookies, and other assorted snacks. As Resha was excitedly packing up the mystery man's care package, she was really hoping he would still be in that spot. You know that feeling when you are about to do something really nice for someone so you get a jolt of giddiness in anticipation? That is what was happening.
She tossed the bag of goodies in her car and set off to that faithful spot where the mystery man had been stationed all day. Sure enough, he was still there! Resha got out of her car and handed the man the sandwich and snacks, and he was very appreciative. She quickly learned his name was Alfonso. He was 74 years old, and had fought in the Vietnam War. He didn't have a family, and was hitchhiking around the country on an epic adventure. He had been all over our great nation, from Louisiana to Maryland, Alaska, and beyond!
Resha never felt unsafe or pressured by Alfonso. He exuded kindness and a sense of calmness. Alfonso's energy juxtaposed with the chaotic season of life Resha was living felt almost healing. Resha insisted on bringing her new friend an hour closer to where he needed to be. Alfonso got into Resha's car, and they were off.
Resha had only one rule for Alfonso. She got to pick what they listened to. He agreed! The two jammed out to everything from Jelly Roll...
...to Arianna Grande.
Luckily, Alfonso enjoyed a wide range of music.
They looked at the gorgeous foliage and chatted the entire way up Route 84. Alfonoso told Resha about the places he had seen and the people he had met. Resha told Alfonso about her sons and what it was like to grow up in New Hampshire. They arrived to where Resha agreed she was going to drop him off, but it was raining pretty hard. She didn't feel right leaving her new pal out in the rain, so she decided to drive him the whole way.
There was one teeny, weeny problem. Resha's car was in rough shape! She needed air in her tires, oil in her tank, and the car was in desperate need of gas. They stopped at a gas station and took care of everything on Alfonso's dime. He was so thankful for the ride and delightful company.
By the time they arrived in Burlington, VT, these two had bonded in a real way. For three hours they sat side by side and chatted about life, with a few intermissions to rap lyrics to Jelly Roll. They were living their best lives! Who would have thought a 40-something-year-old mom from New Hampshire and a 74-year-old Vietnam Veteran would become such homies?! Resha and Alfonso exchanged emails and agreed to stay in touch.
A few days later, this message arrived to Resha's inbox:
Resha and Alfonso still keep in touch! They email regularly and consider each other dear friends.
Every now and again, Alfonso will send Resha gorgeous photos from his travels:
Please don't take this story as an endorsement to pick up anyone you see on the side of the road. Of course we recommend you lead with caution and never put yourself in a dangerous situation. But for Resha, driving 6 hours out of her way for a nice old guy was totally worth it, because it made her a better person.