Given the number of miles we cover and our limited time in any one place, we often find ourselves writing stories and posting them on the go in the car. Typically, it is a slick process in which one of us drives while the other person writes the story. Once finished, Shane turns on a hotspot with his phone and we schedule our post without making an unnecessary stop. However, there are places, believe it or not, that do not have a cell signal.  

We found ourselves deep in one of these dark, signal-deprived zones while driving through the southern part of Kentucky. The sun had all but disappeared over the horizon and we were still 45 minutes from our campsite for the night. It was decided that we would bite the bullet and pull off the highway to grab some WiFi from a local fast food joint. Luckily our first attempt worked and in very short order the post was scheduled and we were ready to make our way to camp.

As Shane maneuvered out of the fast food parking lot and drove past a neighboring gas station, he noticed a man sitting under a lone street light strumming away on his guitar. The cloudy, moonless night surrounded the single spot of light, and we realized why we weren’t able to post from the road and why we had to stop where we did.

Nate approached the street light musician and asked, “Have you had any luck?” The musician replied, “No, not really.” He adjusted the guitar strap a bit as if he were shifting a heavy burden on his back. “A few cars have gone by, but nothing yet.” He gently placed the well-aged instrument back in its case – seemingly held together by hundreds of stickers. “Do you need anything?” Nate asked, gesturing toward the gas station.

The two walked through the dark night to the station doors – Shane fast on their heels with camera in tow. After a short deliberation he decided on a fruit punch beverage. “Do you want another one?” Nate asked. The man replied, “No. One is enough.” Nate immediately countered, “You better get another one.” As we left the gas station, the man introduced himself as Josh “Batman” Jones.

While the conversation went on, Josh detailed his recent string of hard luck. “Well, my wife of 3 years is divorcing me” Josh explained, “and I’ve been working for her dad so I obviously lost my job.” The weight of losing everything suddenly took hold of Josh as he said, “I just want to get back home, but my gas gauge is busted and I have no idea how much is left in the tank. I’m only about 70 miles or so, but I don’t want to get out in the middle of nowhere and run empty.”

Nate gave no hesitation as he said, “Well, pull your car around and we’ll fill it up for you.” As Josh pulled the Batmobile around it was apparent that the car had seen its fill of the road. Nate began fueling and asked about his guitar case. Quick to tell his story, Josh pulled it out of the car and said, “The guitar was my granddad’s. He got Alzheimer’s a while back and within 9 months was a vegetable. The stickers are from places he always wanted to go, but never could.”

Josh turned the case over as he started to tell stories about the stickers. “Every sticker has a story,” he said as he chuckled a bit about the memories each one holds. “It’s a walking art piece,” Josh explained. The pump clicked and the tank was full. By the look of the fill, Josh never would have made it home.

We told Josh about Project Wildness and handed him some stickers. He immediately put one in the middle of the guitar case (both sides) and on the back of his car. “That’s one more story!” he said as the tone of his voice lightened with one less burden to carry. After an exchange of hugs Batman Jones fired up his Batmobile and pulled out onto the open road, quickly disappearing in the black night.

The best stories are shared.

#ProjectWildness #LiveWildness #GoodInspiresGood

To Warren… What could be more fitting than using your donation to help out a fellow musician!? We can't thank you enough for your help at our fundraiser and the generous donation of your own pay that night. You helped out a man enduring some tough times. He was discouraged but not defeated. We have no doubt your hand in lifting him up was fully appreciated. Thanks for all you do.