September 7, 2009

Hitchin' a Ride

About a week ago, while visiting my sis and mom in Madison, we were driving to Spring Green to see Hayfever at American Players Theatre. Along the way, we spotted a hitchhiker along I-94. This was odd in itself - outside of Denver, where it seems hitching is normal, it had been quite some time since I had seen someone deign to stick out his thumb. I mean, seriously? Did this poor kid really think someone was going to pick him up? He did look nice - he was in a suit and tie - but in a car with three women? He should've given his thumb a rest as we passed.

This incident brought to mind the only time that I had ever shared a vehicle with a hitcher - it was probably 1978 or '79, and we were on our way to church. This information is important, because it was probably the reason my dad thought it his Christian duty to pick up a dirty, cashless (probably stoned) lost soul along Webster Avenue. Oh, I have never before or since seen my mother so incredulous!! My dad was trying to make conversation with this young man of 18 or 19, who was either a social misfit or just too wasted to form sentences. My sister and I were cowering in the back seat because he smelled as bad as he conversed. My mom just sat there, and to my recollection, gave my dad the silent treatment for most of the day.

One might wonder why my dad would put his family, all female besides himself, in jeopardy. But looking back, it sort of makes sense - my dad was 18 or 19 during the Depression, when it was all but obligation to pick up a weary stranger. You'd be helping out your fellow man and you may even come out of it with a good story or two. There was even a very happy tune about such travails by Vanity Fare back in '70 (My thumb goes up, a car goes byyy....") I can think of at least 100 times that, had I not been born with a uterus, I would've tried it myself. I didn't have a car in college and it would've come in extremely handy. Instead, I had to rely on public transportation or my roommates, who really enjoyed picking me up from the TV station where I worked at 11 p.m. (by the way, Pia, Jacq, or Vicki - a very belated thank you).

Maybe there'll come a day when traffic is so bad that we'll have no choice but to try hitching again, and the world will live and peace and harmony and we'll all Smile on our Brother and Get Together. But for now, I'll go it alone in my '97 Corolla, thanks.


  1. This is already going on in DC via "slugging" where you pick up strangers to get into the carpool lanes. (And since this is DC it's quite bureaucratized now :D)

  2. I love how something that used to be so 'subversive' has turned bureaucratic - that's the 21st century for you! :D Thanks for the link, Carolyn!