Mission Possible: Herb The Highway Man

        Some of this was posted in 2008. I usually don’t re-run anything, but a comment from Cliff Searcy on FaceBook brought the post to mind, and I decided to repeat part of it.

        I have an elderly patient named Herb. One day I saw Herbert and ordered up some fancy tests.  They were needed, but in truth not gonna save his life, and maybe not even impact it too much.  I explained why I thought we should run the tests.

        Herb listened to all that and said, “Doc, I really admire you.  Now me, I couldn’t never learn all them doctor books, but I asked the Lord what I could do to help people.  I worked for the Highway Department- worked over there fifteen years and got promoted to the head man- stayed till I retired.  I can’t say all them big words like you can, but I can do what the Lord wants me to do.  So the whole time I’ve been in charge when I ride around the County and see something wrong I fix it.  If I’m on the way to church on Sunday and see a stop sign knocked down, I get out of the car and put it back up.  If someone don’t run it and get killed I reckon I saved a life just as good as if you figured out ’bout their heart attack.”

        I think Herb got it right.  If we do the best at what we are here for, we’ve made our corner a bit better.  It’s like I tell my son the paramedic and a helicopter pilot. “Son, you’re a fine boy and a great paramedic, and you’re gonna save a lot of lives.  But don’t ever forget, that fellow who puts the chemicals in the drinking water down at the Water Plant is gonna save more lives than me and you put together.”  (I don’t want him to get above his raising.)  

        I was too lazy to be a good highway man.  I worked there one summer, and all that saved me was my harmonica.  I’d sit in the front seat of the truck and play as we rounded up the workers.  I shoveled  a little asphalt, but it wasn’t long and they’d say, “Play that harp, boy.” 

        I was most happy to oblige; it was the hardest job I ever had.  By the end of summer I’d cash my paycheck on Friday and pray for rain just like everyone else. 

        That fall I made an “A” in Organic Chemistry that fall. Some of the kids would say, “This Organic is hard.”

        I always replied, “No it’s not.” 

        Every time I pass a paving crew I think of those boys.  If the traffic is slow, I’ll stick my head out the window and tell them how much I appreciate ‘em, and I mean it. Several of them are my patients to this day.

        Brother Cliff was right on his FB post. To paraphrase the old T.V show, we all have a mission should we choose to accept it, except it isn’t one bit impossible. It’s right before our eyes if we just have the good sense like my pal Herb The Highway Man to keep ’em open. 

        Dr. B

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6 Comments on “Mission Possible: Herb The Highway Man”

  1. newt221 Says:

    I just keep plugging along doing the next right thing. That’s my job here on this earth. Had a career…that was banking…now trying to do the “animal” gig…but the real job is always doing the next right thing. And asking forgiveness if I slip off the track..

    • drtombibey Says:


      I figure one day someone will be near the end of their rope and you will inspire to keep on. They’ll say “She saw adversity and kept going, I can too.”

      In the long run, people who keep trying to do the right thing can not be defeated.

      Dr. B

  2. jel Says:

    Keep on a truck~un! 😉

  3. I’ll be honest- this one’s tough for me, doing the best I can at what’s in front of me in order to make my corner of the world a little better. I keep feeling like I’m missing out on doing something that ‘really’ matters. Small just feels too small when my corner of the world is doing pretty well and so many other corners are doing so miserably.

    • drtombibey Says:


      My friend you do not give yourself enough credit. You write so well that old doctors read your blog and are inspired to never give up on their art, and to keep trying in spite of the odds against us all.

      Dr. B

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