First Hand Experience

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#274: “First Hand Experience”
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Colossians 3:17

17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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First Hand Experience

“First Hand Experience” is episode #274 of the Adventures in Odyssey audio series. It was written and directed by Paul McCusker, and originally aired on July 23, 1994.


Eugene decides to take a journey away from Odyssey to broaden his horizons and gain new experience … only to find that the road to adventure intersects with Bernard's trip to San Diego.


Bernard Walton is off to San Diego, California, to buy a new truck. As he heads out of town, he comes across Eugene. Eugene is also heading out of town for his summer break. He has bought an open-ended bus ticket, and Bernard agrees to take him to the station. Once there, Eugene randomly picks out his destination. It turns out to be Bakersfield, California. Eugene comments that he and Bernard may see each other on the road. They part to head off on their respective journeys.

But a few hours down the road, Bernard’s truck starts giving him trouble. He pulls over to see what the problem is. A little while later, Eugene’s bus speeds past Bernard. Eugene sees Bernard stranded. Eugene pulls the emergency cord, grabs his knapsack, and bolts from the bus. The two manage to make it to a truck-stop diner. Bernard gets his truck fixed. He takes off, leaving Eugene to wait for the next bus.

While Eugene is waiting, a policeman walks up with a woman from the previous bus. The woman accuses Eugene of stealing her knapsack. Things are confusing for a few moments until the policeman deduces that Eugene grabbed the wrong knapsack when he got off the bus. Unfortunately, the lady’s ticket was non-refundable and non-transferable. She’s stuck. The police officer suggests that Eugene buy her a new ticket. After all, it was his fault she had to retrieve her knapsack and get off the bus. But Eugene doesn’t have the money for that. So he gives up his open-ended ticket to make everyone happy. Now Eugene is stranded.

Hours later, a waitress at the truck stop tells Eugene he can’t stay there forever. The waitress suggests that Eugene mingle with the plumbers at their annual convention. It’s convening at the hotel across the street. Eugene agrees, and runs into Bernard. Bernard offers to take Eugene along with him to California. Eugene accepts. He has found that sometimes you don’t know who your friends really are...until you need them.

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think about Eugene’s decision to buy an open-ended ticket, one without a clear destination? Was that brave or foolish?
    • Explain.
  2. If someone like Eugene sat down next to you on a bus, how would you treat him?
    • Why?
  3. Why didn’t Bernard want to admit that he had done something nice for Eugene?


Heard in episode

Role Voice Actor
Bernard Walton Dave Madden
Bus Driver Barry Stigler
Dean Dave Arnold
Eugene Meltsner Will Ryan
Hotel worker Phil Lollar
Man on Bus Phil Lollar
Police Officer Barry Stigler
Radio advertiser Phil Lollar
Radio talk show host Barry Stigler
Woman (On the Bus) Unknown
Waitress Unknown

Mentioned in episode

Character Mentioned By
John Whittaker Bernard Walton


  • There are no AIO episodes where only two named people are heard. This episode comes the closest with Eugene and Bernard being the only named ones heard for all but one line. At the beginning of this episode, a character named Dean is heard saying "See you, Bernard."
  • Bernard's radio starts to play the AIO theme. Bernard says "I wanted to hear the rest of that" when it fades out.
  • The diner that Bernard and Eugene visit in this episode could be the same one that Jimmy Barclay described his family visiting years earlier in #31: “Family Vacation, Part 1”, judging from its relative distance from town and the way the waitress calls her patrons "honey."
  • The waitress says that the cow used for the "Train Wreck Special" belonged to Vern Roberts, a reference to Robert Vernon.
  • Eugene tells one of his fellow bus passengers that he hasn’t traveled much except for “that trip to Latin America... borne out of specific circumstances.” That trip occurred in #171: “The Cross of Cortes, Part 1”.
  • This episode takes place away from Odyssey: Episodes That Take Place Away from Odyssey


Bernard Walton: It's been my experience that experience for the sake of experience usually isn't a very good experience at all.
Eugene Meltsner: I beg your pardon?

Eugene Meltsner: My pilgrimage will be to—there!
Bernard Walton: That's the sign for the women's room.
Eugene Meltsner: Oops! I'll try again.

Eugene Meltsner: Owners of pickup trucks often carry inexplicable and unnecessary items in the back.

Eugene Meltsner: I'm taking an extended—shall we call it an expedition?
Bernard Walton: Well, call it whatever you want, but tell me what you mean.

Bernard Walton: You just can't do anything the easy way, can you? The rest of the world takes trips and vacations, and you have to go on a expedition!

Eugene Meltsner: Possibly as a marketing question. Perhaps we need to convey a more sympathetic image.
Bernard Walton: Eugene, we're staggering down the road in the middle of nowhere. What else could we add to make us look more miserable? <thunder rumbles> I had to ask.

Eugene Meltsner: I think of it as... a journey to myself!
Bernard Walton: Sounds like a very short trip.