Danny grew up in Central Florida and now lives in Ft. Lauderdale with his wife and two daughters, five and six. He’s had a history of bad luck, or perhaps bad choices, when it comes to jobs, jumping from one short-lived gig to another, always looking to find the right fit. “I’ve pretty much done every kind of job there is,” he said. “I just haven’t done any of them good enough to keep them.”
As one might expect, a wife at home with two young kids might grow frustrated with her husband’s inability to stay gainfully employed. (She had a part-time job, but he was tasked with being the primary breadwinner). Earlier in the week, Danny and his wife had what sounded like a particularly strenuous discussion about his value as a husband and father. His manhood maligned, Danny reacted the way any rational, mature man of 45 would be expected to react: he packed his bags, stormed out of the house and got drunk.
Several weeks prior to his marital meltdown, Danny learned, through a friend of a friend, about a job opportunity on a dairy farm in Spokane, Washington. So, thinking it was time to get his act together, he bought his one-way ticket and headed for Spokane: 79 hours, 39 stops and 3,001 miles away from Ft. Lauderdale.
“Have you ever worked on a dairy farm,” I asked Danny
“Nope,” he said. “But it can’t be that difficult”
“Did you consider trying to get a similar job at a dairy farm a little closer to home,” I asked. “Iowa, I’m thinking, has lots of dairy farms and is a lot closer than Spokane.”
“Well, I know there were jobs on this dairy farm in Spokane,” he said. “So, that’s where was going.”
The thing is, there wasn’t a job. Well, there was, but it came with conditions. As Danny tells it, he would have been able to work there if he was willing to “invest” in the farm. Sort of like a pyramid scheme for inexperienced and aspiring dairy farmers. Well, Danny didn’t have the money to invest and only had exactly what he needed to get back to Florida on Greyhound. And so, I met Danny from Ft. Lauderdale outside of Missoula, heading back to a disgruntled wife without a job, about to cover a total of 158 hours, 78 stops and 6002 miles in a single, grueling, round trip.
His story complete, Danny pulled himself out of the seat next to me and prepared to make his way back to his seat at the front of the bus. I said: “Danny, I’ve not always been the world’s most positive thinker, so, coming from me, this might sound like stupid advice. But you need to imagine yourself working in Florida, near your kids, with your wife’s support. You have to just trust that the universe or God or whomever will take care of you.”
I know it was a corny little pep talk, but the guy was beaten down, with about four bazillion miles of bus travel ahead of him. And I’ve learned from my nominal experience on this journey, that those can be long, lonely miles if your head’s not on straight. We shook hands and I wished him luck.
At the next rest stop, I left the bus to get some air and stretch my legs. I walked by Danny who was deep in the middle of a phone conversation. When I re-boarded, he was perched on the edge of his seat waiting for me, a badass grin on his face. “You won’t believe this,” he said. “My wife just called and told me that two different people back home called for work and I can start as soon as I get home.”
He added: “She said we’re gonna be alright”
I suspect it wasn’t news of the two jobs that prompted Danny’s badass grin. No, I believe he was grinning because his wife did what a partner is supposed to do when the person they love is down and out, frustrated and discouraged. She lifted him up, energized him with a few, simple words of comfort and reassurance. “We’re gonna be alright.”
That’s one badass woman!