Hitchhiking

I've always been looking out for the one who needs looking out for.

I’ve always been looking out for the one who needs looking out for.

You wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes in horror at the things you did in your youth. Like I did just now.

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.

6 thoughts on “Hitchhiking

  1. Bar-ba-ra! Bar-ba-ra! Did you get the Obama book? According to Amazon you did, but who knows? I also now have a copy of TBB I can sign for you… But you’re way hard to get hold of by email. Does everything go immediately to a spam folder? My wife tried to exchange FB addresses with you, but I’m guessing she’s spam now too. It’s all okay, of course, because we all have to defend ourselves from the machine, but that’s why I’m communicating this way. Check in at your convenience… We don’t like to worry.

    • RL, your wife and I are BFFs now, chatting happily via email and Facebook. I already like her so much. The book is here and I can’t wait to begin reading, now that I’ve calmed down enough to face the tension within its pages; thank you so much. We had houseguests for a week, just departed, and last night my beloved missing cat Kiki returned home after a five-day absence — dry as a cotton ball despite the rain and floods we’ve had the past couple of days and not even terribly hungry (or apologetic about the hours I’ve spent searching the woods that surround us, and weeping). Cats never trouble themselves with explanations, do they?

      • And please don’t send The Boomer Bible. Bring your missus for a visit instead and put your hand to the copy in my bookcase.

  2. Sometime in the early 1970’s, my parents, who lived in a small town in northeast Kansas, took a trip to the west coast. On their way home, at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere in southern California where they had stopped for lunch, their car caught fire and was destroyed. Fortunately, they were able to get everything out of the car except an old Polaroid camera. As they were considering their course of action (buy a car, catch a bus, etc.) a truck driver introduced himself and offered to help. He threw their luggage in the back of the semi, loaded them up in the cab (a sleeper nonetheless) and a couple of days later dropped them off at their front door.

  3. Liked you HH stories.
    I get lucky like that a lot too. And always feel the twinge if obligation to help when the opportunity comes. Win some, lose some. I feel like I win enough to make it worthwhile to take those chances.

    Another reason, among many, that makes it impossible for me to believe that there’s not something bigger going on. Works for me, anyway.

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