Hitchhiking, or meeting new friends?

Question: Have you ever hitchhiked? Would you ever pick up a hitchhiker?

While my answer to both is no (though as a child in the ’70s, I used to beg my parents to pick up the poor, forlorn hitchhikers on the side of the road), I did manage to freak out my parents by catching a ride with a perfect stranger one afternoon.

I had been visiting my sister, who was on bedrest with her first baby, helping with household chores, preparing and freezing meals, etc., and was driving the seven hours home one summer day. I came to a place Oregonians will be familiar with – two-thirds of the way up Cabbage Hill on Interstate 84, when my car decided to give up. It had done all it was going to do for that day. Mind you, I’m still three hours from home, and this was before cell phones. I got out of the car, and opened the hood – I knew about three different things to look at, based on past experience – but saw nothing I recognized as out of the ordinary. I’d been there just a couple minutes when a semi-truck stopped, and the driver asked if he could help.

“Are you going through Ontario?” I asked, and he said he was, so I asked if he could give me a ride to the truck stop there. He did, and when we arrived, I called my parents to tell them where I was, and ask them to come get me. Forty-five minutes later, my parents arrived to take me home, and the entire way, all I heard was how stupid I was to get into a truck with a stranger. Did I want to be raped, murdered, cut into tiny pieces and stuck into someone’s freezer? Don’t I ever watch the news?

Not only was I not raped or murdered, I spent three hours chatting with a very nice man, who, it turns out, lived in the town next to mine, and was known to several of my dad’s friends. We spend so much time worrying about what bad things might happen to us that we don’t take small risks that might lead to a fun, interesting new experience.

So, with that in mind, have you ever hitchhiked? Any stories about a time you picked up a hitchhiker? Do you wish you had?

12 thoughts on “Hitchhiking, or meeting new friends?

    • A few bad eggs ruined it for everyone. Most people are good, and wouldn’t harm the driver, or the hitchhiker. Thanks for stopping by, and I can’t wait to head over and read your blog, as well.

  1. I hitchhiked once with my best friend (same situation — vehicle breakdown). This being Los Angeles in the era of the Hillside Strangler and the Freeway Killer, though, we waved on any male drivers and finally got picked up by a girl about our age. She got us to within about 5 miles of our town and we walked the rest of the way. We told our parents the car broke down nearby; only my brother knew the truth, because he had to help us retrieve it.

    I’ve known several people who have hitched with truckers, and I think they’re probably a safe bet, actually. I also pick up hitchers from time to time, and it’s always been fun to chat with them.

    • Did you ever tell your parents, in later years (when it was safe)? Times when we wish we had video cameras set up to record reactions. 🙂

      I agree that truckers are a safe bet, though at the time of my story, there had been something in the news about a truck driver murdering a young girl he had picked up.

      My fear of being murdered and chopped into pieces was solidified at about age 4. That story might have to become a future blog post …

      • I don’t know if my friend ever told her parents, but I never bothered telling my mom; over the years it just seemed like no big deal, especially since we didn’t hitch with a potentially murderous trucker… 🙂 (My mom would’ve overreacted anyway.)

        Now I’m intrigued. You have to let us in on your fear of being chopped up!

        • It’s the sort of thing my sibs and I would wait 10 or 15 years, then one of us would “rat out” the other to Mom and Dad. 🙂 We waited until my daughter was 21 to tell my mom her first word was “dammit.”

          I think I will write the story. I only hope I do it justice. 🙂

  2. I once picked up a pregnant woman who literally looked “on her last leg.” It was a short trip (I was only going about 40 miles) but it helped her. I remember she was soooo relieved when I let her smoke in my car. She talked on and on about how she knew it was bad for her baby; she talked so nervously and fast I didn’t have room to pitch in my own opinion on the subject. I just remember thinking how much relief that cigarette and car ride gave her…and as selfish as this might make me sound, how much comfort it gave me to help someone like that.

    Whenever I recount the story, so many people get hung up on the horrible pregnant woman that was harming her baby. But me? I remember a woman who had been dumped on the side of the road by her “baby daddy” for saying how uncomfortable her back was.

    I didn’t throw her red-lipsticked ciggie butt out until the day I sold the car.

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