We were being watched, there was no doubt about that. It wasn’t creepy or menacing. Rather, trepidatious and hesitant. So, not alarming to us, just really odd. I couldn’t imagine what this couple’s interest in us was.
We went about our business, taking an extra-long and necessary break at this rest stop along I-10. But we watched the watchers in our peripheral vision as we wrapped up our rest break.
When we’d finally finished fussing about with things in the truck and were about to get in and drive away, the voyeurs found their voices.
“Hey, I think that’s my old truck.”
The man quickened his pace towards us when it was clear we weren’t freaked out by his statement or his approach. His eyes darted around our 1999 Dodge Ram 2500, examining it. He was quite perplexed.
“I don’t know how it can be, but that’s my old truck.”
He seemed like a nice enough guy so we entertained his questions because for him—Tom—the circumstances didn’t add up. Since we’d bought it from a used diesel truck lot less than a month earlier, our brains were swirling around the extremely slim odds of bumping into its former owner 150 miles away at a random rest area. It couldn’t be, could it?
We fumbled our way through the confusing details. When Tom and his wife Zona sold the truck in Phoenix, it had a shell on the bed and different wheels. And he’d sold it to a young man in Phoenix getting started in his adult life. Or so he thought.
Seeing it now—looking a bit different, sporting Nevada plates instead of Arizona, and piloted by people obviously not just starting life’s adult journey—explained why they were hesitant to approach us. It didn’t make sense but they knew it was the truck they’d sold a few months earlier. They were the original owners and had used it to tow their RV for 20 years. They knew the truck inside and out.
We told them about our Nevada roots and our full-timing adventure. That explained the license plates and why we were in Arizona. The Power Wagon failure was what led us to suddenly need a new truck only three days into our journey to Phoenix for the winter. That we were on our way to Baja for a short vacation with friends explained why we were at a rest area at the California/Arizona state line and not towing the toy hauler.
How the truck ended up in a used diesel lot was the biggest hurdle. That it was there to begin with explained the alterations—removing the shell and upgrading the wheels made it more appealing on the lot. Not an unusual dealer maneuver.
But what about the young man he sold it to? The person Tom thought wanted the truck for personal use? It turns out he was the salesperson we initially dealt with at the used truck lot in Phoenix.
Clearly he’d not been forthright about his motivations when buying the truck and it looked like Tom was feeling a bit taken. “I probably should have asked for more,” he pondered. It was apparent he didn’t know what he had in terms of it being a sought-after vehicle, especially one in such great condition. We never talked actual numbers about what he sold it for or what we paid for it. That wouldn’t have made any of us feel good.
We thanked them for taking such good care of the truck, explained what it meant for us in our time of need, and what it means for us moving forward. In the end, we assured him that it was much better off in our hands than anyone else’s. That was a high note we could all walk away on.
J and I laughed the rest of the way to San Diego—the first stop in our Baja adventure. The odds of us being at a random far-flung rest area at the exact same time as Tom and Zona were so bizarrely small we figured we should probably play the lottery.