New Castle News

Josh Drespling

June 21, 2014

Josh Drespling: I’m driven to know this guy — but it’s going slowly

NEW CASTLE — In our day-to-day lives we encounter many people.

During our bustle from one point to another, we cross the paths of some interesting folks — some funny, some weird, and some we would much rather keep our distance from. These people have become part of our daily routines. We offer up the courtesy nod or a half-hearted wave as we pass them by.

Whether it's the employee at the coffee shop, the crossing guard near the school, or the soccer mom jogging down the road every morning, these people have become part of our lives. Despite the fact that they are only extras in the film that is life, they play an important part of our existence each and every day.

My attention has been drawn to one of these players in my life. To be honest, I don’t know if this person is male or female. I couldn’t tell you if he or she is young or old. If he or she were to walk in my front door, I would have no clue who this person was, despite my daily encounter with them.

I have built an image of this person in my mind. I have visualized him as an older man with graying hair and a bit of a slouch in his posture. I have also envisioned him wearing a Mr. Rogers-style sweater with a cup of coffee in his hand.

Each and every morning I make the long trek to Pittsburgh. I typically leave my house between 3:30 and 4 a.m., traveling east on 108 into Harlansburg, and then turn south on Route 19. At some point in the darkness, between my home and Portersville, I encounter a small green SUV. I have the license plate number memorized, but I have never been able to get a glance of the driver. 

The speed limit on this stretch of road is 55 mph, which at 4 a.m., can be easily interpreted as 65 or maybe 70 (depending upon the deer activity and weather conditions). My companion on the road day after day drives a consistent 35 mph. I have never seen him go any faster or slower. If another car happens behind him, he quickly pulls over to the side and puts on his hazard lights.

I've encountered this regularly now and have just learned to quickly pass the vehicle and keep moving toward my destination. The first few times I came across this motorist, I got frustrated and wondered what was wrong with this guy, but after months of these encounters, I have learned to pass it off as part of my daily routine.

Over the months, I have let my mind wander and create entire scenarios about this character. Perhaps he has trouble seeing while driving at night and has to pull over in fear of crashing. I've thought that maybe my mental image of him is true and he is an elderly man going to visit his ill spouse in some type of home or hospital. His driving in the wee hours of the morning is so he can be there when she awakes.

I have also envisioned him as being sick himself and that he has to frequent one of the many hospitals in Pittsburgh for a regular life-saving treatment.

All these scenarios are far from my initial take of believing him to be a drunk driver or simply insane. Maybe I'm wrong in my assumptions about him being some type of caring older gentleman and he is only driving slow to find a good place to dump some dead bodies.

I may never know the real answer to this puzzle, but I want to believe he is a good man, doing good things. He is an extra careful driver who is considerate of others on the road. Maybe someday we will get to meet. Most likely, it will be after I buzz by him and my fancy car sputters and chokes to a stop along the highway.

I hope I am right about him, and he will be helpful and not be a crazed lunatic looking for another person to massacre.


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Josh Drespling
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