Rule #1: If I don’t know you, I’m not picking you up.
All other rules: refer back to Rule #1.
Exceptions at my discretion…
My days of picking up people on the side of the road are gone.
Even when I did, the times were rare because I was picky.
No dogs, no backpacks.
They had to have their thumb out and be looking at me so
I could judge them by their appearance.
No pissed off faces, no downward stares-
Do you want the ride or not, you ungrateful mooch?
If they looked like they needed a shower, the answer was no.
If it was raining, no.
If it was dark, no,
Unless it was a girl and then definitely-
Call me old fashioned, but a girl should never be alone
In the dark on the side of the highway.
And if I was on a schedule, the answer was no.
Due to my rules, most of my experiences with hitchhikers have been pleasant.
I had many unexpected times with friends, and
I’m sure I saved a girl’s life once by driving her home-
She was drunk and I almost ran her over as she ran into the road with her
Thumb out not realizing she was that close to the yellow lines.
There were a few awkward trips because I made exceptions to the rule
But there were also a couple of exceptions that,
Because of my keen eye of judging appearance,
Led to parties where I met some pretty cool folks.
So maybe you think that I don’t pick up all the hitchhikers because
I have never spent time on the side of the road?
Well, that assumption would not be correct.
Most of these times were with my sister
When we ran out of gas or slid into a snowbank.
We lived outside of a small town, so
We knew many of the people driving by,
And since we lived in a climate of deathly cold,
We have been picked up by the Good Samaritan Law which dictates that
A person must pick up anyone stranded on the road due to the
Extreme likelihood that they could freeze if not.
One of the most interesting times I needed a ride was
When a pump in my car decided to die.
It was dark, I was very far from home and believe me,
I thought about sleeping in my car.
It was summer in Alaska, so the weather was not cold, but
It was not warm, either.
This was way back when cell phones were the size of cereal boxes
But even I had had a cell phone, I was sure to be in a dead spot.
A semi-truck going the opposite way was the first to stop.
It took me a long time to realize the truck was slowing and
Since I was a girl all alone in the dark on the side of the highway,
It took me a while to warm up to the idea of talking to someone
In the dark going the wrong way.
The driver leaned out of his window high up on his big rig
And asked me what the situation was.
He drove away, slowly going through the low gears,
Calling the next truck coming north.
Soon another truck appeared,
Going the right way and already knowing he’d have
A companion about the same age of his daughter back home.
I had never ridden in a big rig before… Way cool.
But I forgot to leave my car key for the tow truck and garage,
So I was headed back the next day,
This time in the comfort of my mom’s car.
The coolest hitchhiker experience I’ve had was in Canada.
A friend and I were driving from Washington where I was in college
To Alaska where both of us were going to work for the summer.
My car (same car- a light blue Honda Accord with flip up lights)
Had a pump that died…
We had just passed a town, so we turned the car around and sat,
Deciding what we were going to do.
A box truck going the opposite way stopped to assess the situation-
Two kids on the side of the road with the car doors open and license plates not from Canada.
He called his friend who came and picked us up with a tow truck.
He also called his son who came to pick us up from the garage in his green Camaro.
He also told us we could stay the night since
The car probably couldn’t be fixed before nightfall and
As long as we didn’t mind joining him and his friends at his annual lobster boil with
Fresh lobster flown in from Newfoundland earlier that day!
We each paid $20 for a whole lobster and learned how to eat the brains,
Went to a kegger with the son and were blown away with his new skateboard company
And passed out in a pop up camper, taking shots and laughing.
My car was done before noon the next day.
We thought about staying another day.
Instead, we took turns driving so the other could sleep-
We would not make it to work if we lollygagged any longer.
I remember sleeping in the parking lot of a gas station
Waiting until it opened because we would surely run out of gas
Before the next dot on the map.
We drove into my driveway so early in the morning that it was still dark.
We showered, got back into the car and drove to our first day of work.
But now that I am a mother, a wife and a woman of a mature age,
One of the last things I need to be doing while I have two children in the back
Is trying to make pleasantries with an unknown person
Who is not going to give me money for the gas they are sharing
While we drive to a location that is most likely not where I am going.
I could be teaching my children humility and kindness
If I did pick up strangers from the side of the road,
But that’s only if the hitchhiker is also kind, returns my small talk and
Is not a drunk on a beer run who believes he deserves the ride.
Sometimes lessons with too many unknown variables are not worth the experience…