Above is the bus depot I dropped off hitchhiker.
"I will never forget you." Those were the last words I heard from her while dropping her off at the Sacramento Greyhound Bus Depot back in 1977. Who was she? I don't know. It was Friday afternoon and I had just gotten off work in Sparks, Nevada. I was planning on driving to where my dad and mom lived at in Cameron Park and stay with them over the week-end before heading back to Sparks on Sunday evening.
I was working for Warehouse Markets at this time as an undercover grocery clerk. My dad had quit Raley's a few months earlier and was hired by this firm to troubleshoot its operation and asked me to come to Nevada and work for him. I was heading out of Reno and noticed a woman hitchhiking on one of the busy streets. It may have been Keystone Ave, but truthfully speaking, I don't remember the exact street I was on. I quickly decided to pull over and ask her if she was going in my direction- in other words, was she heading to California?
I rolled down the front passenger window and she came up to the window. I asked her where she was going? She said she was going to San Francisco and cautiously asked me if I was associated with the group of drunk guys in a pick-up truck who minutes earlier tried to pick her up? I told her no, I was by myself and I was heading to California to where my parents lived and she was welcomed to travel with me to at least Sacramento. She opened the car door and got inside. She was an attractive woman with long brunette hair and probably in her late 20's, maybe early 30's. I was really surprised to see a woman like her hitch-hiking.
As I headed for Interstate 80 to drive west out of Reno, she started off by telling me the story of why she was in Reno and also why she was hitch-hiking back to San Francisco. It turned out that she had taken a bus from San Francisco to Reno to gamble and hopefully strike it rich like the millions of other people hoping to strike it rich at a casino. And like so many of the other gamblers, she lost all of her money, including the money she needed to pay for her bus ticket back to S.F.
She then told me she had been gambling the last two days, hadn't eaten anything for a while and hadn't even slept in over a day. It seemed like by the time she had finished that sentence she had already fallen asleep and she was completely out like I had turned off the light. As she slept, I was sad to realize how this woman found herself traveling in the passenger seat of my car. She seemed so defeated and she did appear like she really hadn't eaten or slept in a while. I was driving to Sacramento, CA and had a woman in my car who was really struggling in her life.
While she slept I tried to figure out the best way to assist her. I figured I would find a food store along the way and pick-up some food for her knowing she had to be hungry. After crossing the California state line, I came upon a small convenience store and stopped to purchase some food. I tried to be as quiet as possible hoping I wouldn't awake this woman. I purchased a sandwich, some fruit and juice and went back to my car to continue on to my parents house.
After entering the car, the woman came out of her sleep and asked me why I stopped. I told her I purchased some food for when she awoke and handed the food to her seeing she was now awake. She thanked me and after she finished her food she continued to tell me more about her life and the sad experiences that led her to Reno. I was in the presence of someone who had been down on their luck and the more I listened to her the sadder I became.
I was now approaching Colfax and the woman sitting next to me was feeling a lot better after getting some sleep and eating a small lunch. I knew that in order for me to get to Cameron Park, I would have to take the Sierra College exit, drive through Orangevale and head toward highway 50. In the back of my mind the only choice I had for her was to take her all the way to Sacramento like I had planned and drop her off at the Greyhound Bus Depot.
I never disclosed my plan to her and told her that I would take her as far as Sacramento in which she said would be much appreciated. As we got into Sacramento, I took the exit I knew would lead me to the bus depot. As I approached the parking area of the bus depot she asked me what I was doing. I told her that I couldn't take her all the way to San Francisco even though I would really like to, but I wanted to make sure she got there safely seeing it was getting dark, and the only way I could do that was to buy her a bus ticket to get her home.
We entered the bus terminal and I purchased her a ticket for the next bus departing to S.F. I gave her the ticket and mentioned to her that she should probably get in line. Knowing that she didn't have any money, I handed her $20. Looking totally grateful, she thanked me and asked me if she could give me a kiss. I told her a kiss wasn't necessary. She asked me what my name was and I told her my name wasn't important. I said good-bye and wished her luck and headed for the exit door while she stood in line. As I moved closer to the door I could hear her say in a sincere thankful voice "I will never forget you."
Those last words she spoke to me I have clearly remembered since that special day I was given the opportunity to help someone in need. I was now on my way to spend the next couple of days with my parents in Cameron Park. When I arrived my mom and dad were happy to see me but wondered why it took me so long to get to their residence. I never shared with my parents this unusual experience I had picking up a woman hitch-hiker in Reno, Nevada. To this day this is what I know:
If this woman is still alive she has never forgotten the stranger in Reno, Nevada, who picked her up hitch-hiking while she was going through a very low point in her life, showed her some compassion and made her life a little more brighter when she returned to the sunny state of California.