It was some time ago, 1976. I was camping and cycling the West Coast. It was a rainy summer, my homemade rain gear seemed to be of little value. That has nothing to do with this story except for the fact that it made any offer I received along the way to abandon my journey all the more tempting. I received a few offers that gave me pause, none more evocative than the one I received in Bandon Oregon.
When I pulled into the State Park at the beach in Bandon Oregon, I was greeted by a summer intern at the registration booth. She was young (my age) and attractive, working on her Forestry Degree at the University of Oregon. I was enchanted. I off-handedly asked her if there was a Catholic Church in town and where it was located. I had no inference in that question other than my desire to attend Mass the next morning (it was late in the afternoon on Saturday). She gave me directions and informed me that her family usually attended the 10 AM Mass. I truly did not think much of that comment at the time.
The next morning, shortly before 10 AM, as I walked up the front steps of the church, I noticed my Forestry Intern waiting outside the front door of the church, with her whole family. They cordially invited me to join them for the service.
After Mass, we all exited the church and chatted for a bit on the front steps. My Intern’s father approached me and asked me a bit about myself, where I was going, where I went to school, and what I was about generally speaking. I had no idea where the conversation was going, but I happily obliged all of his inquiries. After a few minutes of chatting, he asked me the 64-dollar question. Would I be interested in a job on his fishing boat and a bed in his basement? At this point, it occurred to me that my Intern friend may have been planting seeds with her father and he was doing his best to help her out.
I respectfully declined his generous offer. One of the things I told him was I would be no help on his fishing boat since I could not even handle fish without an allergic reaction. I said goodbye to the family and headed out of town. I had no idea at the time if I would return or not once I finished my ride. As it was, I never made it back to Bandon. This is one of those turning points in life that help to define who we are. I look back on this experience with fondness and appreciation for the trust the family was willing to place in an almost perfect stranger. It was an epic ride, even without this once-in-a-lifetime offer having been handed to me.
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