Don’t ever let your children hitchhike or think that it’s an acceptable mode of transportation.
But I’ve done it several times. Learned some things along the way. I’ll tell three quick stories. One humbling, one funny, and one I’m convinced is a world record.
Thought I knew everything about driving. Until I got a ride on a tractor trailer. Nothing like you think it is. Harsh harsh ride. Every bump hits your spine. No big deal. The big deal is that when you look out the windshield, you feel like you’re two lanes worth of wide. How does the driver make any decision about where to go, how to avoid all the other cars?
Funny. I had a GMC Jimmy when I was consulting with General Motors. The gas gauge was for shit. It said there was an eighth of a tank when the tank was empty. I KNEW this. But I ran out of gas between Findlay and Lima Ohio, which is precisely 25 miles from anywhere. I was so furious with myself that I got out of the car, slammed the door, and started walking, still cursing myself step by step. I informed myself that I deserved being stranded in the middle of nowhere and it would serve me right to walk for hours and hours… when suddenly I became aware of a kind of chugging sound behind me. I looked over my shoulder to discover that a huge tractor trailer was plodding behind me on the shoulder of the road. He was waiting for me to realize that he was rescuing me from my rank stupidity. He drove me to the next town and dropped me off at a garage that could get me back to my car. Don’t tell me people aren’t good.
World Record. One of those stupid ideas. I hitchhiked from Cambridge, Mass, to Poughkeepsie, New York, to visit my sister in college. She thought I was nuts. Then I hitchhiked back. Somebody dumped me on the New York Thruway, whereupon I was almost immediately picked up by a New York State Trooper. He looked at my duffel bag, asked if there were any drugs inside, and when I said no, he believed me. Then he drove me, at speeds averaging between 90 and 110 mph all the way to the Massachusetts border. No way I could have driven myself faster from Poughkeepsie to Cambridge than I got there that day.
Mine has been a blessed life. In almost every way.