I live in the Philadelphia area, and have had two jobs in Princeton, NJ. Princeton is about 60 miles from where I live. I worked in Princeton from 2005-2008, and then again from 2011 to end of 2019.
When I first started commuting to Princeton, I noticed a memorial on the side of the road. It was a big handmade cross (maybe 3 or 4 feet tall), and in the middle of the cross were the words “Ken Buddy”.
I didn’t think much of that roadside memorial when I left my job in 2008, but I noticed it again when I started another role in Princeton in 2011. Ken Buddy was still there. I saw that memorial every day, and I thought a lot about Ken. Who was he? How did he die?
One time about 5 years ago, the cross was knocked over, probably by a roadside mowing crew. About a week later, someone took the cross and put it back in its original position.
But about a year ago, it was knocked over, and no one put it up again. It started to deteriorate, and it disappeared about six months ago.
On my last day driving to Princeton last month, I made sure to say goodbye to Ken Buddy.
I recently had the opportunity to help my daughter move to Iowa from Pennsylvania. Over the course of the two day drive, we drove from Pennsylvania through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and finally Iowa. We stopped at a lot of rest areas, and saw a lot of middle America.
In Iowa, we saw a series of posters in rest areas on “how to spot human trafficking”. Wow. That is not something I think about much in my day to day life. My daughter and I both saw the posters, and then spoke at length about it when we returned to the car.
If you read this blog, or my books, you know that I drive a lot. I estimate that I drove about 250,000 miles for my last job, from 2011-2019. That is a lot of time looking through a windshield. It is a lot of gas fillups, a lot of oil changes, a lot of time looking at brake lights. Once in a while I see something (like Ken Buddy) that reminds me how lucky I am to be on this side of the grass, even if I am in my car.