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Out of Bounds by Geary Leason

“Smedley Goes for a Ride”

(Re-capping this story started two weeks ago)…..
Our hero, the hapless Fred Bob Smedley, in a serious attempt to advance in life, had piled up a mountain of tuition debt from his two year associate program at Alpena State University (ASU). Part of this program called for Smedley to work as a caddy at the prestigious Country Club of Little Rock, his earnings coming only from the meager tips given by the club’s high-roller golfers – leaving him far short of the money he needed to keep the Student Loan collectors at bay. His story continues…..
Fred Bob fled the Country Club caddy yard just steps ahead of the hard-hearted collectors holding writs and handcuffs, jumping into a silver 2001 Lincoln Town Car marked by paste-on signage on the driver’s door reading “Uber Taxi.” As often transpires in life, as one door is closing (the caddy yard gate), another door is opening – and this one happened to be the door of an Uber taxi cab.
After catching his breath, Fred Bob settled back in the roomy rear seat of the Lincoln, telling the driver to take him to the Jefferson Bus Terminal. Why he chose this destination, only Fred Bob knew as he was now without a job or a place to stay. All his bridges to friends and family had been burned to ashes by his years of foolish living, deceit, and broken promises.
Fred Bob began to ask the taxi driver some questions about this “Uber Taxi” business, hoping there might be something for him in it. The kindly, white-haired driver explained the very simple qualifications: an Uber driver must be over 21 years of age; have available a vehicle model year of at least 2000 vintage; have a valid driver’s license, a clean driving record, and the ability to obtain the insurance. Even better, the driver said, was that the job did not require a lot of money to get started and that a person could make a decent living as an Uber driver. Fred’s ears perked up.
After his latest fiasco with the ASU deal – borrowing a lot of money and getting nothing for it, Fred Bob figured that this taxi caper might work for him. But still, he had no car nor money for insurance to even think about it. Clearly Fred Bob needed help from somewhere, somehow as there was nothing – not even one inch – left on his rope. Fred Bob uttered a quiet, desperate prayer, his first since he left home at age twelve. Was God already waiting to answer Fred Bob’s prayer? Was it just a coincidence that a new door in his life was opening for Fred Bob and opening this new door was the Uber driver, an elderly man named Clarence?
Upon Fred Bob jumping into Clarence’s taxi, it didn’t take long for Clarence to see the distraught condition of Fred Bob – still in his white caddy jumpsuit – a man worn out and thoroughly beaten down. Since Fred Bob was not an authorized fare, Clarence was at liberty to engage him on a personal basis so he parked his taxi by an out of the way coffee shop, offering to treat Fred Bob to some “fixin’s.” After Fred Bob’s empty belly and depleted energy was restored by several plates of eggs, grits, toast, and a pot of coffee, Clarence invited the now refreshed Fred Bob to tell of his current predictament and why he jumped into Clarence’s taxi. And soon, Fred Bob’s entire sad story of his life came pouring forth.
As a sympathetic Clarence listened to Fred Bob’s many tales of his despicable attempts to get ahead in life, he sensed that there was a decent man buried in all his misfires, most self- inflicted, a few not so. And as Fred Bob opened up to him, Clarence saw a great similarity and also a great possibility for Fred Bob: a loser like Fred Bob in his earlier years, Clarence had found a new way to live – a wholesome life of peace and blessing. Clarence related to Fred Bob how some very caring people had come alongside him when he was at his lowest, and got him started on a new path that has blessed him ever since.
Some forty years ago, Clarence explained, that he was also in a downward spiral – neglecting his wife and three kids so as to feed his alcohol habit. When his wife and kids finally walked out as they could not take it any longer, Fred Bob was left in a deep pit of despair. The door to his family had slammed shut on him. Now, a very broken man, Clarence was, at last, open to heed the loving advice of his caring friends and he turned his life over to God.
Clarence told how God did not disappoint him leading him in the years following, allowing him to become the man he always wanted to be but did not know the way. One year later, as a new man, he was able to reconcile with his family.
Clarence believed a transformation such as his, was also possible for Fred Bob, so he set forth to make it happen.

Next time: Fred Bob gets the “Ride of his Life” with Clarence at the wheel.

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