Some people have entertained angels without knowing it. – The Bible
My travel column this month takes place close to home and involves a mysterious stranger. Ever imagined entertaining an angel unawares? The popularity of angel stories in recent years helps fuel the imagination. We never know who or what might happen along one day.
Twelve years ago, Anna and I stayed in a bed and breakfast on the St. Clair River. While we slept, another guest arrived. “Nancy,” our hostess, told us about “Cal” the next morning. His story went something like this. He had flown into Pearson Airport from Vancouver and rented a luxury car. He drove to the Chatham and Sarnia area but the drive ended when the car’s transmission failed. In Chatham, an attack of pain took him to the local hospital where doctors diagnosed kidney stones.
Cal changed to hospital garb in his room, hid his wallet in a shoe, and reported for tests. While out of the room someone stole his wallet with his money, credit cards, and driver’s licence. When he left the hospital the next day the rental agency wouldn’t give him another car because he now had no licence. He couldn’t get a hotel because he had no credit card or money. Later, when he told his story in a donut shop, another customer drove him to the bed and breakfast at 11:15. Compassionate Nancy took Cal in, although he had no money.
As soon as Nancy had finished that brief account, Cal appeared. In an engaging, but loquacious way, he supplied more details: “I own a gym in Vancouver and another in the States, so I have dual residency. I have an American driver’s licence back at my office, so I called my manager to send it so I can get a replacement car. I’ll call again to tell him where to send it.”
With that he asked Nancy to accept the courier pack containing money and licence. She answered, “I or my neighbour will receive it; my husband works days.”
He turned his attention back to us: “I left my suitcases in Toronto, just bringing a change of clothes in my gym bag. I do have a shirt and tie to change into when I get to Sarnia for an appointment with a real estate agent. I want to build a gym in this area. I’ll hitch-hike to Sarnia to see her.”
“Why not call her to pick you up?” I asked.
“She has other appointments this morning,” he responded.
He kept talking, telling us about his former career with the Ottawa Roughriders, a car accident that ended that vocation, his marriage and divorce, and a dozen other things we really didn’t want to hear. He even showed us pictures to illustrate his tale.
Soon he picked up his gym bag, saying goodbye to us and arranging with Nancy to return later in the day. I suggested, “Put on the shirt and tie now. It might help you to get a ride.”
“No, I’d be wet and sticky when I arrived,” he said as he went out the door.
A half hour later Anna and I left, heading for Sarnia. When we saw Cal hitching back toward the bed and breakfast, we phoned Nancy. She, like us, disbelieved his story and called the police. They wanted him for assault with violence and numerous other charges. He did not return and the police didn’t find him. So if you bump into Cal with his heart-rending tale, don’t take him in – he is anything but an angel in disguise. Call the police.