“Need TIX”, got Houseguests….

I was standing out in front of the Post Office late Wednesday afternoon with my sign,panniers “Need TIX, Four day or Sunday”. There was camaraderie among us, with our signs.

One women just held her arm up, as if she was perpetually hailing a cab.

I noticed the cyclists right away. Obviously touring, their bikes were laden with panniers and three water bottles apiece. They were young men, as clean-cut as possible after riding 75 miles a day. “What’s the going rate for tickets?” one asked me.

“Face value for a four-day pass is $185,” I said, “And karma seems to allow only charging about $200.” He nodded, and then got into a conversation with another fellow about where they might camp.

Legit campsites had long been sold out long ago. “You could go up Bear Creek, do a cut back because you don’t want to be visible. Or,” the fellow with the long ponytail went on, “you could go that direction,” he pointed North toward Tomboy Road, “but it’s dryer there and there are a lot of ticks over there, really a lot.”

I listened to the conversation, sizing up the players, waited until tick-guy moved on and asked the two cyclists how long they’d been riding and where they were going. I thought about the question a couple minutes before it escaped my mouth. “Would you like to stay overnight at my house?”

“Your HOUSE?” they blushed at the their good fortune. “That would be very generous.” The night before “the librarian let us sleep out behind the library in Dolores.”

Soon enough Derek and Gabriel, both laid-off science teachers from Loveland, were holding my sign for me—and doing Craigslist ticket sleuthing–while I went to find dinner. They’d eaten earlier—“The grocery stores are a lot better in Colorado than in Utah or Nevada.”

Together the three of us got their bikes into my Honda Element. “But where are you going to sit?” “I’m small said Gabriel.” He tucked himself, yoga-style, into a tiny spot behind the passenger seat. They had started in Sacramento, ridden across Nevada and Utah. Derek had a wedding to ride to in Wisconsin.

I pointed out the sites, the historic district, the valley floor preserved from development, and the elk with babies that had just been born. “It’s so pretty here,” said Derek, “I wonder if there are any teaching jobs available.” They asked questions about the school that I mostly didn’t know the answers to.

“You’re welcome to do laundry, if you like.” I said, my rusty Mom-ness rushing to the fore. “Maybe even take a shower.” “You think we need a shower?” asked Gabriel.

“Look, TWO beds,” said Derek, when I showed them their room.

I heated up some leftover fried rice. Know how hungry I get riding all day. Sure enough, they scarfed it up, politely. I offered the hot tub or television, but no, “we need to write in a our journals. Did a lot today.”

Nice having kids in the house. Guessed they were 24 or so. I took out a package of croissants and a pound of sausage for breakfast.

In the morning between tending dogs and fixing breakfast I looked up job listings for Telluride school district and smiled to see an opening for a middle school science and math teacher.

“That’s YOU Derek!” said Gabriel.

While Derek and I fussed with the printer for the application Gabriel did the dishes, including the pans. I got them each a map of the town and a coupon for a free meal at the Mexican restaurant. And they were off…quietly, and politely. Saw them twice more during the day. They came to check on me with my sign, and texted me with a ticket-lead from the library. They’d found out where the free music was playing, and loved the Mexican food.

And of course Derek had applied to be a teacher here.

Hope he put me down as a reference.


About Karen Ray

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4 Responses to “Need TIX”, got Houseguests….

  1. nancydowner says:

    You have a knack for lifting people up.

  2. Kathy says:

    Somehow Derek found this entry in your blog and sent it to me – I’m Derek’s Mom in Wisconsin! Thanks for your “rusty Mom-ness”- it’s always good to know that one’s offspring is polite and properly grateful for a stranger offering unexpected hospitality. All of Derek’s relatives and friends hearing the story will be inspired to send on more karma because of your example – THANK YOU.

    • Karen says:

      Wowza….I’ve been thinking about Derek and Gabriel ever since….on the drive to Montrose I watched out for them, even had a little snack to pass along if I saw them, which sadly, I didn’t…hope rest of their ride goes well….and that he gets a job in Telluride! Karma always welcome here!! An as a mother of two daughters, wonderful to know that someone out there has been doing a great job raising young men. Cheers, karen

  3. Derek says:

    Dear Karen-

    This is Derek, one of the bikers that you put up in your house this last summer during the bluegrass festival. I know my mom got a hold of you, and that you already know that I ended up getting the job in the middle school. I can’t fully explain why it has taken me this long to thank you for everything you did that weekend, for that I am really sorry.

    I have just over 50 students, spread out into small classes that these days are beyond rare. When you have less than 20 kids in a room, it isn’t hard to get everyone to act more like a family should. I teach mostly 8th grade science, as well as a section of Algebra, and a general fitness class that meets at the end of the day. The staff in all schools are dedicated and easy to get along with, and many had to work very hard to get a spot in the district. They don’t give me a hard time for how lucky I was to land a spot like this, but I am keenly aware that this isn’t just another job. I feel like I fit here, and I am humbled when I think of all the unexpected events that had to happen for me to find such a place. It certainly wouldn’t have happened without you, and for that I will always be grateful.

    The school district owns a few apartments on Lawson hill, which is where I live now. My back window looks out on the Aldasoro ranches, and there isn’t a time where I look out on those houses and don’t think of you and your generosity. Thank you so much Karen. Brief as our encounter was, you truly changed my life.

    Happy New Year!

    Derek Engebretsen
    (or perhaps more fittingly: dengebretsen@telluride.k12.co.us)

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