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Old 06-11-2019, 12:28 PM
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When Was the Last Time You Picked Up a Hitchhiker?


Inspired by this thread.

The last time I remember doing this was in 2010. My girlfriend and I were seeing some historic sites in rural Nebraska and we saw an old man in overalls trudging by the side of the road. Assuming that he was a farmer who had a mechanical breakdown (it isn't uncommon for Nebraska farmers to keep working into their 80s), we pulled over to offer help. Unbidden, he hopped in the backseat and just asked us to take him to the next town, which we did. He asked to be let out at a nondescript place and bid us farewell.

I assume that he was walking to the nearest bar, but who knows? It seems like a pretty everyday thing for him.
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Old 06-11-2019, 12:36 PM
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I typically drive around in a two seater with both seats occupied, so I'm not sure I've ever picked one up.

I have however stopped at the side of the road to render assistance on multiple occasions including motorcycle accidents, car accidents and breakdowns.
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Old 06-11-2019, 12:36 PM
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Probably 30 years ago, or more. I hardly ever see a hitchhiker these days.
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Old 06-11-2019, 12:48 PM
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It depends a little on your terms. I've stopped many times to offer assistance and/or rides to people dealing with breakdowns or other emergencies. Were these people hitchhikers? To my (perhaps overly pedantic view), to be a hitchhiker, you need to start the journey on foot with the intended goal of catching a ride from some friendly soul. By this standard, I don't think I've ever picked up a hitchhiker. I have provided rides to those in need though. Most recently, just last week when I offered a ride to a trucker that had just purchased a replacement brake hose for his truck and needed a lift back to it.
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Old 06-11-2019, 12:52 PM
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I only did it once, a little over twenty years ago. I was in a rural area, and had both my kids in the car (they would've been younger than ten). It had been drilled into me all my life not to ever stop for a hitchhiker, but I saw this truck pulled over on the side of the road with a guy looking at it and a woman trying to flag me down. On impulse, I pulled over and the lady asked for a ride to the nearest gas station, so I agreed. After a couple minutes, I twigged to the fact that she was drunk as a skunk. She was kind of hyper, but friendly, and kept assuring me that I was doing a favor for a very important fellow (the guy we'd left at the truck). We made it to the gas station without incident, and I decided never to press my luck in that way again.
I bet that very important fellow would like to reward me richly for the events of that day, but the memory is thanks enough.
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Old 06-11-2019, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Dung Beetle View Post
I only did it once, a little over twenty years ago. I was in a rural area, and had both my kids in the car (they would've been younger than ten). It had been drilled into me all my life not to ever stop for a hitchhiker, but I saw this truck pulled over on the side of the road with a guy looking at it and a woman trying to flag me down. On impulse, I pulled over and the lady asked for a ride to the nearest gas station, so I agreed. After a couple minutes, I twigged to the fact that she was drunk as a skunk. She was kind of hyper, but friendly, and kept assuring me that I was doing a favor for a very important fellow (the guy we'd left at the truck). We made it to the gas station without incident, and I decided never to press my luck in that way again.
I bet that very important fellow would like to reward me richly for the events of that day, but the memory is thanks enough.
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Old 06-11-2019, 01:58 PM
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A few months ago; two guys, walking with a petrol can who stuck thumbs out as I passed. It wasn't a car breakdown, as I'd assumed, but some misfuelling issue with other equipment, I didn't quite get the story.


I figure you really would have to be a special kind of crazy to threaten the driver from the back of the car they were driving, especially as guns are rare here and though it's rural by UK standards, there's usually someone in earshot.

Last time I hitchhiked myself was about 12 years ago, in New Zealand. I remain not dedded.
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Old 06-11-2019, 02:03 PM
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Never. Nor have I ever hitched a ride.
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Old 06-11-2019, 02:16 PM
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Lotta backstory, so bear with me...

The one and only time I picked up a hitchhiker was about 35 years ago. We lived in Germany, because Mr VOW at that time was Sergeant VOW and stationed there in the US Army. I was driving from our home in government leased housing to my job at a different post. It was wintertime, and almost record cold, along with the aftermath of an ice storm the previous night.

Several intersections before reaching the post, I saw a man in BDUs, hugging himself tightly except for the thumb extended. All I could feel was pity, and I stopped. His car had died, and he was desperate to get to work, at the same post I was going to. He told me to just drop him at the gate, and instead I drove him all the way to his unit.

Would I pick up someone again? Only under the exact same circumstances.


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Old 06-11-2019, 02:35 PM
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Last year, I picked up some hikers getting back to their car at a different trailhead. I do it once or twice every summer. I typically hitch back to my car after a hike about once a year.
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:11 PM
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Well over 30 years ago. I was pulling out of the airport w Mrs. FtG and at least one of the FtGkids. There was a woman with her thumb out and luggage. The guy in the car ahead of us started slowing down and it all looked creepy. So I decided to not let something bad happen and pulled over.

Turns out she was visiting my university for the weekend, I knew right where to take her, etc. That we were a family and I worked at the university must have put her at ease. No real extra time for us.
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpha Twit View Post
It depends a little on your terms. I've stopped many times to offer assistance and/or rides to people dealing with breakdowns or other emergencies. Were these people hitchhikers? To my (perhaps overly pedantic view), to be a hitchhiker, you need to start the journey on foot with the intended goal of catching a ride from some friendly soul. By this standard, I don't think I've ever picked up a hitchhiker. I have provided rides to those in need though. Most recently, just last week when I offered a ride to a trucker that had just purchased a replacement brake hose for his truck and needed a lift back to it.
That's a good point. I think the days where all but a very few, very intrepid people will actually set out to get from point A to point B via hitchhiking are pretty well gone. We are either more aware of the inherent dangers or less tolerant thereof. I would define giving a lift to a stranger in an emergency as "picking up a hitchhiker" in these circumstances.

Come to think, I don't recall the last time past 2010 when I saw a person in such straits. Now that cell phones are ubiquitous and friends, AAA, and Uber are within easy reach for all but the most luckless of souls, such opportunities to help are less common, with the possible exception of folks in remote areas like the hikers in Telemark's post.
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:49 PM
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I don't pick up hitchers per se, but here in Oregon there are plenty of places a car can break down or wreck where there's no cell service and I've given rides to people in distress pretty often. Especially out in central and eastern Oregon, leaving someone on the side of the road with a brokedown vehicle could mean a death sentence depending on the weather.
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Old 06-11-2019, 05:18 PM
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A few years ago, I don't remember just how many.

The hitcher turned out to have had her car break down and was trying to get to a job interview by a combination of walking and hitching; she was afraid she was going to be late. I took her there (on my way anyway). A couple of weeks later I stopped in there to buy something and she was working behind the counter, having gotten the job. (I don't usually recognize people, but she had something conspicuous about her -- piercings, IIRC.)

I very rarely see hitchhikers any longer.
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Old 06-11-2019, 05:52 PM
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I have never picked up a hitchhiker. Maybe I've seen too many serial killer movies\TV shows, but I ain't gonna either.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:13 PM
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At work Ive given plenty of rides to people who needed to get somewhere. Never outside of work.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:23 PM
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I have a good one. Living in Albuquerque, 1970-71 with my friend in Seattle, he came home for Christmas and we drove back to Seattle in my, um, 68 Austin Healy Sprite. Had fun going up the coast and having my convertible top violated on New Year's Eve in San Francisco. But it was coming back. I could easily drive for 24 hours in those days, but I'm coming down through Oregon where every logging trucker owns 30 or 40 miles of winding narrow roads. And it's raining. Real hard. And they aren't giving me a break, so I'm just taking them in my sports vehicle with tight suspension and steering. I've always been lucky being stupid. So I get down to Grants Pass and pull off the highway to gather up resources to proceed, and I stop at this stop sign, and this hippy is standing in the pouring, mother-fucking rain, straight up, hand straight out, and I just opened the door. Shoved his pack into my little rig, and I took him to Eugene. Probably crashed with them, but I don't remember.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:14 PM
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Maybe six months ago. I live in a rural area, it's not uncommon to see them once in a while.

I used to hitch rides when I was in college, and when I lived in Alaska. It was common knowledge that vehicles with cracked windshields were more likely to pick you up.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:45 PM
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About 35 years ago. A kid around age 10 was trying to get a ride and so I stopped. His mother's car had broken down or something and she couldn't come and pick him up.

I hitchhiked around Japan several times in my 20s, and had many wonderful stories out of it.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:50 PM
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College so around 2006. I did it a couple times.

One guy was walking along the side of the road carrying an empty gas can. I gave him a ride to the gas station and back to his car.

Another guy was a college student at the library who wanted a ride to his apartment. When I ran into him six months later and tried to talk to him he looked at me like I was a stalker and a total stranger. He had no idea why I knew personal details about him.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:52 PM
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At work Ive given plenty of rides to people who needed to get somewhere. Never outside of work.
Were these people riding in your car voluntarily or not?
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:52 PM
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Never have. But then again I've never been asked for a hitchhike ride or seen one.
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:10 PM
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I haven't seen a hitchhiker for ten years or so, but late 80s and through the 90s, I gave nearly every one that I saw a lift. I was in a bad spot in 1990 once and needed a ride about ten miles and was very grateful to the person who gave it to me and wanted to pay it forward. I never picked anyone up, though, if I already had someone in the car with me. I would never put anyone else in a potentially perilous situation.
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:15 PM
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A few months back, I was driving alone and I gave a ride to a young couple with backpacks for 30 miles.

A few years back, my wife and I were crossing Yosemite NP and picked up a couple of 30-somethings and their backpacks. They’d finished their trekking and needed a ride back to their car.

I’ll do it from time to time but you hardly see any these days, and that’s fine with me. I have a tire thumper and a few other things handy if I need them to defend myself, if the hitcher means ill will. But it’s never been a problem.

I’ve only hitched a few times, when on military bases and needing a ride to somewhere else on base. But that was over 20 years ago.

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Old 06-12-2019, 01:46 AM
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Three months ago; before I dropped him off, he warned me about some construction up ahead that my GPS might not know about. It did, but his instructions were clearer than the machine's.
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Old 06-12-2019, 02:17 AM
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Hi,

I have never tried picking up a hitchhiker. Maybe I'm just too scared to do so.
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Old 06-12-2019, 03:16 AM
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A year or so ago I picked up two Pacific Crest Trail hikers who needed to get into town for supplies. Happy to help them and they were very grateful.
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:47 AM
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Many years ago I saw a person I knew walking the almost deserted state hhighway I drive. Because I knew the person and which county road he lived on, I picked him up. I had no fear of this guy. He did tell me if I was ever stranded and he saw me he would return the favor.

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Old 06-12-2019, 05:28 AM
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1975 or 76, not exactly sure.

Long dirt country road. Watched the car in front of me break down (lots of white smoke) and pulled over as they did. It was a couple of bubbas, one helping the other move. They were taking the gun collection on that trip, and I had the odd experience of helping them load a dozen rifles into my trunk. They didn't want to leave them roadside.

Afterward, I thought it would make a good intro to a horror movie.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:19 AM
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We vacation every winter in St Martin, and it's a rare day we don't pick up at least one hitchhiker. On two occasions we've driven considerably out of our way to take someone to their door and in both cases we were invited in for a nightcap.

In the US I picked up a scared young lady in the late 90s. She had attended an event and had gotten seperated from her ride home. She was on the berm with her thumb out, I stopped, and she got into the back seat of my car.

When we arrived at the intersection where she wanted out, I pulled over. She fumbled around with her door for a bit. I waited patiently, then she screamed, "LET ME OUT". I didn't know the car I'd owned for just 24 hours had a kid-proof setting for the back doors. I got out of the car, opened her door that way, and she bolted.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:31 AM
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About 5 years ago. I was working in a city about 90 miles from my home. I'd drive there Mon a.m., and stay the week in a crappy apt. The drive was basically a stretch on a couple of interstates, and then about 2o miles on state highway.

As I got off the interstate, I saw an older man of color hitching. I figured, "I can take him, if need be," and stopped. He was going to the same town as me. When I asked where, specifically, he was going to my place of business. My job involves deciding the claims of private individuals. I didn't tell him that. Fortunately, his claim was assigned to someone else in the office.

I used to hitch all the time as a kid. In Chicago, the SOP was to get to the bus stop and stick out your thumb, taking a ride or the bis - whichever came first.

Can't remember seeing a hitcher after I gave the guy a ride.

Anyone read John Waters' book about hitching across America. A fun read.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:52 AM
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<Brief diversion no hijack>

This thread reminds me of the old hitch hiker Bud Light beer commercial.

Super Bowl XLI Hitch Hiker Bud Light Commercial https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qIC90Vnc-OI

But, hes got Bud Light! That was from 12 years ago.

</Brief diversion no hijack>

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Old 06-12-2019, 08:23 AM
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I've never picked up - or been - a hitchhiker.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:32 AM
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I used to pick them up all the time when I was young but it would be decades since I did. Until I saw this thread and thought about it I hadn't realized that I haven't seen anyone hitchhiking in a very, very long time. I guess the advent of multi-lane highways that bypass most rural towns has a lot to do with it.
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:02 AM
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Never have, but I hitched a number of times when I was a young Navy E-2 in California trying to get to my girlfriend's house. Got picked up once by a guy who made a detour to score some pot, then dropped me off.
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:10 AM
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Just a few weeks ago. Very well-dressed man, appeared to be in his early 60'a, trying to get from Steelville (at the bottom of a mountain) to Cuba (at the top), a distance of about eight miles. I was headed that way anyway, so I took him. Asked me to drop him off at a truck stop where a relative of his worked; it wasn't out of the way, so it was no big deal.

I actually pick up hitchhikers pretty regularly. I figure the day may come when I need to hitch a ride, and so if I put good into the universe it may some day come back for me.
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:04 PM
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I rarely see hitchhikers anymore. Last time I think was when my grandson was 6 years old, he is 24 now - so 18 years.
On the other hand I drive a taxi in Copenhagen. If that counts, I was flagged down two times around 1500. It is now 1900, so 4 hours ago I picked up some strangers (from Tokyo).
Should I see a hitchhiker, I would pick him up if I had room and was in my own car.
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:07 PM
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Another never-never.
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:31 PM
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Never for me, as well. It seems like it might be a generational thing; when I was growing up in the 1980s and 90s I was taught by my parents that picking up hitchhikers can be dangerous and is something you should never do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TokyoBayer View Post
I hitchhiked around Japan several times in my 20s, and had many wonderful stories out of it.
My dad has a Japanese friend (they were roommates back in the 1970s) who hitchhiked around the US (or maybe it was around the world; I don't remember the details). If I remember correctly he was in the middle of this trip during the time he was roommates with my dad, stopping just long enough to earn enough money to continue his travels. When a police officer approached him while he was hitchhiking and informed him that hitchhiking was illegal it whatever locality he was in, avoided a ticket by pretending to not speak English. In fact his English is very good; he actually teaches English back in Japan now.
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:34 PM
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I don't think I've ever seen a hitchhiker out in these parts. I've hitchhiked in Europe back in the mid-90s, but that was the only time hitchhiking seemed at all normal to me. Come to think of it, I'm 43 and I have never seen a hitchhiker at all in the US. I know they exist, as I do have a friend who did it, but I've literally never seen one. I don't even know where I'd find a hitchhiker around here. The closest for me was giving a ride to some older Polish lady who didn't speak English (but I speak Polish) at the local park who was desperately trying to find someone who spoke her language to give her a ride to work (about 2 miles away.) I left my wife with the kids and gave her a lift, but she insisted on paying me, so it was more like some sort of Eastern European Uber service than hitchhiking or anything of the sort.

Last edited by pulykamell; 06-12-2019 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:13 PM
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Not exactly a hitchhiker, more like giving a stranger a lift. This was about four or five years ago, the day before Thanksgiving. It was really windy and cold that day. I had left work around lunchtime and stopped at the liquor store on my way home to get some beverage for the next day. As I was walking to my car, a woman standing at the bus stop flagged me down and asked me if I knew when the next bus was coming. She had just hitched her way into town and was trying to get to the homeless shelter downtown. I told her I wasn't familiar with the bus schedule, but that I could give her a ride downtown if she didn't want to wait in the cold. She took me up on my offer and showered me with God Bless You's when she got out of the car.
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:32 PM
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In the mid '80s on the road from Toronto to Sudbury. He climbed in and started screaming at me that I was going the wrong way. I stopped and told him to get out.
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:40 PM
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Never.

I hitchhiked some when I was young and not smart enough to know better.
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:48 PM
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In 2002, I was parked at an intersection in Alexandria VA and a young woman approached out car and asked if we could give her and her mother a ride to their home. We did.

In 2007, I saw a young lady trying to walk quickly in high heels to avoid an oncoming thunderstorm. I pulled up, offered her a ride and she accepted.
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
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Not exactly a hitchhiker, more like giving a stranger a lift.
We did that a few years ago. People on public transit here tend to talk to each other, unlike in most cities. My wife was talking to a young woman who had just gotten off work and who looked pretty worn out. During the conversation, it came out that she still had about a ten block walk from the bus stop in our mutual neighborhood, so we gave her a ride.

Best ride I ever got was near Fairbanks, AK. It was December. My girlfriend and I got a bus out to North Pole, AK just to see the place, then found out there was no return transpo back to the University, which is about 15 miles away. Like idiots, we started walking, thinking we'd hitchhike. Problem is, there were very few cars on that road in 1966, and it was blistering cold. Luckily, a car finally came along and took pity on us. My girl had a good seat, but they had a toboggan stuffed in the car, and I had to sit under it. No complaints, as it beat freezing to death.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:57 PM
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My spouse and I picked up hitchhikers 3 separate times in Chile earlier this year. They all looked like student types, and that's what they turned out to be when we got to know them.

We have never picked up any hitchers in the US, and, in fact, I can't remember the last time I have even seen one here. It's been a very long time.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:08 PM
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Never. The sensationalist media of the days when I was a child had it pretty firmly drilled into my head that hitchhikers were mostly serial killers or other ne're do wells and picking them up was pretty risky.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:30 PM
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I never have. But once, when I was a tweener, over fifty years ago, my family was on a vacation roadtrip, and my dad stopped to pick up a hitchhiker. It was a soldier in uniform, and dad used to hitch rides, back when he was in the service. We were in the desert SW, and this guy was on his way to Tennessee he said. He rode with us for quite a ways, about two hundred miles. He had lunch with us, I remember, when we had a prayer before eating, he crossed himself.
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Last edited by Baker; 06-12-2019 at 08:31 PM.
  #49  
Old 06-12-2019, 08:31 PM
River Hippie is offline
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Location: N.E. Indiana, USA
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2002-ish. I was driving up US 30 to South Bend and saw a guy with his thumb out so I stopped and picked him up. Immediately started telling me his story. He was fresh out of prison, covered in jailhouse scratch tattoos and was talking some crazy shit. I didn't feel at risk from him but it really made me think about how so many people are out there, untethered from reality, waitin' for a ride.
  #50  
Old 06-12-2019, 08:55 PM
The Stainless Steel Rat's Avatar
The Stainless Steel Rat is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Close to the Saturn V
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Picked up a lady on the interstate who had run out of gas. Took her to the nearest town, she got out with barely a thank you. 30+ years ago.

Only other time was not my doing. I was leaving a military base in the United Arab Emirates and was at the gate preparing to leave, when one of the guards said something and two other soldiers got in my car. Since they had guns, I wasn't going to argue. Fortunately they were going to a base on my way home, so no problem. Their English was about as good as my Arabic, so we didn't say much, but I did get many thanks from them.

Like most, I haven't seen a hitchhiker in the USA for a long time. In UAE there was a lot, but we were warned not to pick them up, since they might be Iranian infiltrators (yes, we were told that).
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