Hitchhikers - get in here!

Have you ever hitchhiked? Picked up a hitchhiker? Do people still do that?

At the HouDopefest—we got to talking about the seventies—and how it was no big deal to hirchike anywhere.

I have a few stories. In 1978 (I think), my boyfriend and I and another couple, hitchiked to Colorado. It was tough to get a ride for 4 people, and we split up a lot, but always seemed to catch up with each other again. I remember walking all the way across Colorado Springs 'cos we couldn’t catch a ride. We went to Twin Lakes. Whose idea was that? Hmmm… Anyway, we got there and it was summertime and we were all hot and sweaty. I hadn’t had a bath in days. The Twin Lakes are joined by a small creek. Well, I jumped in fully clothed----and jumped right out again! Picture a cartoon where they just shoot straight up! The water was glacier fed… I coulda died of a heart attack! LOL! I ended up washing my hair using an empty jug.

After a few days, the other couple hitchhiked to New York state. Why, I don’t know! So my friend and I are waiting on our final paychecks to arrive to General Delivery. When he got his, it was short about $100 and he was all upset and decided to go back to Houston.

So I decide to follow my other friends to Corning, New York. All by myself. I had made a big deal out of leaving town and didn;t want to come back so soon, it would have been embarrasing! Jeez…

Anyway, I hitchhiked from Denver to New York in about three days. Never got raped, never got killed, ate very well, and didn’t sleep much. I couldn’t sleep in those 18 wheelers! Too bumpy. And I’m sure I annoyed them to no end because the bumpiness made me have to pee every 50 miles!

I know how lucky I am, and I never pick up hitchhikers now, even though I feel bad about it.
So tell some wild stories!

Hitchhiking was the standard mode of transportation for us. It was no big deal if we couldn’t get the car that night. We just hitched! I don’t have any dramatic stories. It wasn’t unsafe to do it at the time. Met a lot of nice people. I haven’t done it in years, except in an emergency (heh. Now I have access to a car all the time!). I don’t think I’d do it alone any more, but I might give it a whirl if I was with somebody that was physically capable.

I will always pick up hitchhikers if I am by myself and I’m going a long way, it’s usually not an unpleasant experience. The last time was back in January(?) I was getting on the interstate and there was an old guy there with all his stuff. I stopped and asked him if he needed a ride. I immediately wished I hadn’t. He started shouting “Thank you Jesus, thank the good lord” and trying to gather his belongings. He had a bottle of Scope and I thought, ‘Oh,good, at least he has good hygiene’. Negative. It was Sunday and you can’t buy beer on Sunday, so he was getting drunk off of Scope at 10 am on a Sunday morning. He finally got in (smelling like shit) and started talking. And talking. I turned up the radio. More talking. I turned the radio up louder. More talking. Not talking really, but repeating the same 3 phrases.

  1. I’m a good person. I would never hurt anybody.

  2. I’m going back to Wilmington (NC)

  3. What time is it? How close to NC are we? (In NC you can buy beer on Sunday after noon)

And I smoke in the car, so he took this as permission to smoke too. The difference? I’m kind of anal about cracking the window just so and only smoking while the car is moving etc etc (You might not think it helps, but it does, my friends tell me it doesn’t smell like smoke in my car!) This guy. You know the scene in The Wall where the guy just sits there and lets the cigarette burn all the way to the filter? Well, just put that cigarette in a drunk guy’s hand. In my truck. He just ashed all over himself and the seat and the floor. I felt sorry for the guy but come on. I wait until 12 to start drinking!

Anyway, he was in the car for about an hour and I let him out when I got off the interstate. Hope he made it to Wilmington.

Just outside of Snow Flake, AZ I picked up a young guy and gal heading to Tucson, I told them I’d bring them as far as Phoenix, cuz that’s where I lived. They were kinda stinky, flower-child types, who most liked to smoke a lot of pot and talk about the horror’s of living in the United States.
I kept my patriotic beliefs to myself, but I did want to know why they were hitch’in at such a young age. Why they weren’t in college or whatever. They gave me that “oh Jeez another one of those people want’in to save us looks.”
I immediately changed my tone, and just started bullsh*t’in with them. They eventually told me They took off from Pennsylvania 3 years earlier, spent quite a while in Montana and were coming south for the winter. I actually started to empathize with the two and decided to bring them down to Tucson - an extra hour and a half south of Phoenix. I ended up buying them dinner and having quite a nice day. I felt a little selfish because I felt good for doing a good deed, not necessarily because I was helping people, but because it felt good to do so.

Sorry for the hijack but . . . you can get drunk off of Scope? I used to drink it all the time as a kid (no wonder I was called “The Happy Child”)! I have no idea why–same reason, I guess, that I used to like to put CloseUp toothpaste on my lips and pretend it was lip gloss. Sometimes I put it on my eyelids, too. I must have smelled minty fresh all the time.

And then there was the time I sprayed Chloraseptic all over the bathtub . . .

Anyway, as for the OP, I’ve never hitchhiked or picked up a 'hiker, but I’ve often wished that times were such that I could. When I was leaving Atlanta, the maintenance man for my apartment complex (with whom I’d heretofore had a mere nod/smile acquaintance) saw me loading up the moving van and begged me to take him with me . . .

. . . to KANSAS.

He seemed so nice (and so desperate for a change in his life) that I really wanted to help him out, but the mere fact that he was willing to walk away from his job, his house, and God knows what else at a moment’s notice (though he did ask me to wait an hour so that he could get his paycheck) to go to KANSAS just flipped me out a little (well, that and the fact that when I mentioned my fears about the fact that he was a stranger, he assured me that I wouldn’t wind up dead as a result of letting him tag along–but added that I might end up married . . . ), and I said NO.

I think that’s perfectly allowable. Why should good deeds have to suck for the doer? This way everybody wins, which is never a bad thing. :smiley:

And really, I’d love to be able to do the same thing. In fact, in a moment of . . . I don’t know what–idealism, Pollyanna-ness–I made an agreement with my fiance (who once went on a Just-For-The-Hell-Of-It solo hitching trip, which I’m hoping he’ll share here) that when we eventually fulfill my dream of taking an RV trip across the country (he’s promised me an Airstream, but I’d be happy with pretty much ANY motor home . . . I have an almost unnatural affinity for Living Space On Wheels), we will pick up any hitchhiker who looks clean and safe. Sort of his way of “Paying It Forward”, if you will, and since I love the idea (I have a special place in my heart for that car commercial where the couple is handing out fast food to all of the hitchhikers they’ve picked up, and calling them by their destinations), I said OK.

You should see people’s faces when I tell them this.

Actually, you can–it’s a little something like :eek:

Dolores said:

Cite? :wink:

Thumbin’ a ride was a pretty standard way of getting around for a long time. When my Dad left home in the early '30s, that was an accepted form of travel, and he hitched to the coast.

My experiences are from the '60s and '70s, and I won’t get through them tonight (boss is in town tomorrow). But I’ll start.

• Hitchin’ a ride home from work on Westheimer (major traffic artery through west Houston), a cop saw me and barrelled over the curb right at me. Informed me that he was supposed to take me to jail, but he was TAC squad and couldn’t be spared for such duty, so he was going to write me a citation. When he got down to making an “X” (they weren’t always preprinted) where I was supposed to sign the ticket, his pen ran out of ink. Rifle, rifle, rifle through squad car. Spread eagle prisoner on hood, and search. (Thankfully) no pen available. Told me I had 10 seconds to get out of his life.

• When I first got out of high school, my day job was driving a florist’s delivery truck. I hitchhiked up Westheimer to work every morning, and almost without fail, the shop owner’s wife would pass me. Usually, she’d wave. She knew me, she knew I was going to the exact same place she was…, in fact she knew that when I got there, I was going to spend the day driving the very same vehicle she was at that moment driving. But she didn’t pick up hitchhikers.

• In ~1970 I was hitchhiking through Austin with another longhair friend of mine. A couple of hippies in a '60 Chevy picked us up and we headed south on I-35. When we got on the elevated, we got pulled over. Must’ve been a slow day, as we drew five cop cars. Now, the reader must understand that there was no open container law in Texas until very recently. It was legal, and commonly accepted, to drink beer while driving. The guys that picked us up had just knocked off from a day of working construction, and they each had a 40 oz. beer sitting on the dashboard. The lead cop talked with us a bit and then said, “Well, we got a call that there was a car full of drunk hippies on the highway. But y’all ain’t drunk yet.” And waved us on.

Those are nothing - there’s much better to come. But I’m up too late as it is, so I’ll have to add on later. Hey, I’ll be here all week!

Hitch hiking from Bezerkeley to Lost Angeles.

Waited some six long hours and then got a ride exactly to the door in L.A…

I love it when a plan comes together.

I hitchike to and from school somewhat often (for one quarter it was the only way I could get to class on time). I don’t like to do it alone because people really have been murdered hitchiking at my school!! But generally it’s professors or other students that pick me up (I can tell by their parking passes), and it seems pretty safe.

Heh… I was about to say that I’ve seen plenty of hitchhikers going to and from the UC Santa Cruz campus. Hold a “Hi Opal” sign, I’ll pick ya up next time. :wink:

I’m a big, I mean BIG, guy, 6’6" and 300lbs. I pick up hitchhikers.
IF they look safe. I pass most on by…
but I decided long ago that if I could, they’d get a ride.
Never tried hitching myself… for the same reason I pick 'em up. I intimidate people. q;}
I picked up a guy who musta been pushing 500 pounds once. Looked just like santa claus. Took him a good 200 miles, he was quite grateful.
One time I had just crossed some state line or other, and I saw a hot blonde chick on the side of the road hitchhiking. If she hadn’t kept looking back into the bushes where who knows what coulda been hiding, I mighta picked her up. Still wonder about that one…

When I was 20 and rash (as opposed to being my age now… and rash), I bought a plane ticket to New Orleans–one way–just for the hell of it. I pretty much assumed that things would work out and I would find a way home back to my apartment in Kansas City.

Because there was an AMA convention in town, all of the local Orleans’ hotels were already booked for the weekend; so I had to take a cab to the outskirts (passing by the first Windixie I had ever seen) of town and stay in a cheap chain motel. Which was fine because, hey, I came on whim–what did I care?

I spent the next couple of nights playing on the streets of New Orleans (talked with a handful of beggars; shouted back at the guy who yells scripture passages in front of the giant Catholic church; tasted lots of gumbo; got chased by a guy who kept yelling, “Hey, you!” at me), and when I was ready to move on, I rode the trolley out of town (or close to the edge of town), commented on the various bulding structures on the way out to anyone who would listen, and then started walking.

(I do have–somewhere–a journal with all this written down. But I’m not sure just which box houses this thing. I have the names of all the people I met, but since it’s 3:30 in the morning now, I probably shouldn’t stave off sleep too much longer. Work in the morning, don’tcha’ know. So, my memory may be sketchy at this point…)

I spent part of the night in a fancy-schmancy hospital in the area–one with a waiting room equipped with a giant piano. I just put my bag down, sat down and fell asleep for a few hours. When I awoke, I started walking again.

I don’t recall which interstate I started off on (maybe I-55), but I began walking and within a half hour or so a delivery guy picked me up. Apparently he drove nearly twelve hours a day from Lake Charles, LA to New Orleans (stopping off at various places) to deliver pies. And that’s all he did–the man was starving for company. So, I rode with him for a good six hours of his delivery route, stopping off with him at his favorite 50s-style diner, learning his opinions about sugar farmers (rich, messy folk he didn’t care much for), Wal-Marts (hate 'em, love 'em, didn’t matter; they were all potential customers for his pies, even though they never paid on time), racism (he liked Black folk well enough even though he was taught different in his youth) and hitchhikers (he didn’t normally pick anyone up, but he was looking for converstaion and I looked “normal” enough).

I proved to be a poor companion for the last hour of the trip, because I ended up dozing off. He didn’t seem to mind at all, though, because he woke me up when he was about ready to head back to Lake Charles, gave me his business card and said to mail him when I got back home, safe.

He was kind enough to drop me off at a rest stop on I-49. After he left, I went inside, brushed my teeth, shaved and started walking again. Within five minutes, a man in an SUV pulled over and offered me a ride as far as Shreveport. I accepted. On the way he told me about his job working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico (he worked so many weeks in a row and then had a full week off–if I remember correctly), the two houses that he helped burn to the ground so that his buddies could get the insurance and pay for nasty divorce cases, and his daughter–of whom he was very proud for attending college.

While he stopped to get gas on the way to Shreveport, I looked at what he was drinking and was rather shocked to learn he had been swilling beer after beer for the entire journey. I stayed with him, though, because he was a nice guy and that whole “mortality” thing hadn’t quite burrowed its way into my noggin’ yet.

When we got to Shreveport, he offered many apologies for not being able to house me (“My daughter is home and I don’t want her getting the wrong idea…”), but made sure I was able to get a map of the area from a local Wal-Mart, and then took me to a motel so that I would have a place to spend the night.

But yeah, I didn’t want to wait around, so I thanked him, wished him well, assured him that I had a room at the motel, and then snuck off into the night when he left the parking lot.

That night I ended up sleeping under a bridge, and then when that got too cold, I found a parking garage elevator and curled up there. (No wind, you see.) But, later that morning, the elevator returned to the ground floor, waking me up and sending me on my way.

I walked for the most of the day, but I really don’t recall what happened–if anything at all. Anything interesting, that is. My feet started to hurt (because I took some cheap shoes that were not made for long distance walking), but I kept on going. During the early evening I found myself resting my weary feet on the floor of a rest stop. That’s when Andy (this guy I remember: mustache, tan truck and all) asked me if I needed a ride anywhere. Once I was inside his cab, he made reference to how the rest stop I was at was a good place for gay men to meet one another.

Uh-oh. Or so that’s what I thought back then. I hastily made an excuse so as to be let off at the next stop–a request he kindly granted–and started walking again. As I passed that rest stop, another SUV stopped and asked me if I wanted a ride. So, with his dog in the back, the scent of too much weed filling the SUV, we were off on I-20 (I think), headed to Dallas. Now, this guy had the same name as me, had tattoos up the wazzoo and was a pharmacist in Arlington, Texas. He was just visitng friends in Lousiana, apparently. Turns out, though, that his father graduated with my father from Rockhurst College (a Kansas City Jesuit College) back in the 60s.

Interesting as that was, however, I still fell asleep. :slight_smile: Besides, at this point my feet were all cut up, bloody and bruised from the bad shoes. Which is why, aside from quicky dress shoes purchased at Pay Less, I don’t mind paying lots and lots for good shoes these days. Who knows when I might have the urge to leave it all and travel again?

The inked-up drug guy dropped me off in Dallas, where I spent some of the wee early hours dodging the most insane drivers I had ever seen. Seriously–Dallas drivers hate you. It doesn’t matter who you are, they hate you. All of you. Even you. Ugh. :wink:

By the time the noon hour had approached, I decided that bloody feet were bloody feet and I was tired of trying to pretend otherwise. So I headed toward the airport (got picked up by a guy who worked for an auto body repair shop), called my best friend, asked him to buy me a ticket, waited a few hours, and headed home. Bloody feet and all.

And the next weekend I went out to play a soccer game. Which did nothing for my feet, lemmee tell ya’. :slight_smile:

One of the best parts of the whole journey (other than meeting the assorted nice people–wacky as they were) was that I never, ever intended to hitch. In fact, I never raised my thumb–not even once. I’d like to think it was all magic, but really it was probably because I was a clean-looking white kid who didn’t look like he could harm anyone.

I’m much more menacing now. Just ask collection of unicorns–they’ll tell you! :mad:

Ahem. Leave it all? Even the unicorns (because you know the second you’re out the door, they’re off to Neverland)?

I will usually pick people up if I am by myself and on a long trip. The woman hates that I do this, but it’s been ok so far. I usually pull the club I have by me set, and separate it so that you have the handle with the big heavy lock on the end (very useful bashing weapon) and set it in-between me and the door so that I have access to it if need be, and hitchhiker can’t see it. I’ve never once felt in danger.
Several years ago I was going to see my lady, she lived in Macon at the time. I picked up this guy who was very nice and we talked for about 1/2 hour. So, time passes and he tells me he was going to southern GA. I told him I could take him as far as Macon. He says to me – “Oh, really? Macon? That place is swimming with niggers, ain’t it?” :eek:

It took me about 8 seconds to go from 70mph to be on the side of the road, stopped.

“Get out.”
“What? What’s the matter with you? What did I do?”
“Get out of my car, now.”
“What did I do?”


Last year I picked up an old man on highway 77 in West Virginia. He was probably in his late 60s, and he didnt look very clean. 5 minutes after I picked him up I was sorry I did. His first question to me was “So where do you go to church?” He then started spouting off about all this really hyper religious crazy talk, telling me all this old-testament shit and telling me how the Catholics were really Satanists and how the apocalypse was coming very soon on and ON AND ON. Oh, and somehow, he managed to work Nebuchadnezzar in to his stories every 5 minutes. You all know how to pronounce that, right? Well, this guy pronounced it phonetically. “The king NABU-CHAD-NEZZ-AR did this…The king NABU-CHAD-NEZZ-AR then went here…” ON and on he went.

So, I turned on the Wu-Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers and turned it up pretty loud.

He asked to get out shortly after that.

Hitchhiking was my primary means of transportation when I lived in the Bay area in the early 70’s.
At one point I lived in a wonderful old Victorian in Oakland. It was considered a less than desirable neighborhood (which I why I could afford it) and a halfway house for ex-cons was established a few blocks up the street.
One morning, a very large man picked me up just outside my door and gave me a lift to to the junior college.
We got to chatting and he informed me that he was a professional burglar on probation at the halfway house.
I asked him to make sure all of his business associates knew that I was a starving student and that my only assets- a TV and a stereo would be very difficult to replace.
I lived there for over a year and my house was never touched.
The couple that moved in after I left were burglarized 6 times.

My own hitchhiking stories are a bit boring compared to the ones above, but here goes. My one actual walking down the road thumb out hitching experience was just outside St. Augustine FL two summers ago, I was on my big post college road trip seeing the country on the cheap, getting around mostly by bus and train. I had a bus to catch late that afternoon and had to leave the hostel by 11 so I pretty much had the whole day to kill, I decided to go to the beach which wasn’t too far from town. There was a sort of a shuttle bus that would take people out to the beach and back for a dollar or two, which is how I got out there. I missed my return bus and if I waited for the next one I’d miss my bus to Georgia so I walked out the road and put my thumb out. After about 20 minutes a big 'ole extended cab pickup truck stopped, it had a family of five in it. It was obvious that the kids(three daughters looked to be from about 8-15yrs) had badgered their dad into stopping, they were staring at me through the back window like I was a zoo animal. The father asked where I was headed and then offered to take me the two miles back to the highway and that I had to ride in the bed. A ride’s a ride so I hopped in back, his kids continued to stare and giggle. As we approached the highway I could see that his kids were pleading with him not to kick me out, so when we stopped instead of saying ‘bye’ he asked where in town I was headed. When we took off into town I could hear the kids cheering “yay dad!” Six miles later I was back in town with enough time and money to get lunch before my bus left and he bacame a hero to his children for picking up a hitcher. Not a bad deal.

Other than that the closest thing I’ve done to hitching was getting a ride to New Orleans with a couple of people I met in the Savannah hostel (well actually I’d met the guy, James, in DC a few weeks earlier, our reunion in Savannah was just a happy accident though) Like all good travel stories it begins with “We were in this bar when…” To make a long story short, after checking in to the hostel at the same damn time, by accident, James and I decided to go out drinking. A girl we met in the dining area came along (we had made an open inventation for anyone who wanted to join us) at about the third or fourth bar we hit that night she asked if we wanted to drive with her to New Orleans. She had a rent car but was afraid to go alone. We both agreed to go and the next morning headed off.

That’s about it for my experiences as a “hitcher”.

I’ve never picked up a hitchhiker when driving, but not by choice. A few years ago I took a three week road trip from Anchorage ot Vegas and back. For the first two weeks my car was full, I had three friends along. They all had to be home a week ealier than I did so I dropped them off at SFO to fly home so most of my return trip was solo, and I fully intended on picking up any hitchhikers that didn’t look like Charles Manson. The entire trip up 101 along the cost from SF to Seatlle I encountered exactly zero hitch hikers :frowning: When I got on the Alcan in Canada the closest I saw to a hitcher was a drunk local in Watson Lake who was begging everyone for a ride home (about 10 miles from the truck stop I was at) and started trying to climb into people’s cars, including mine, before the mounties arrived and gave her a ride to jail. The rest of the way back to Anchorage was devoid of hitchhikers as well. I was disappointed. :frowning:

I picked up hitchhikers before I got married. I only picked up women. I had a bit of a knight in shining armor complex. I met quite a few interesting people this way.

There was Corey, who was young, attractive, and clearly insane. She bought me a couple martinis and told me about her travails with Mr. Blue and the Trilateral Commission. The really scary part is that she was a dental technician - she worked with sharp instruments in people’s mouths all day.

Karen, who was drunk and having trouble with her boyfriend. After a few miles she admitted that she had a knife in her hand, ready to stab me if I crossed her. The blade was ridiculously small, only about half an inch; unless she stabbed me in the eye I would have been able to easily overpower her.

I picked up a young girl, maybe 17 years old, because she was clearly lost and was being propositioned by men in other cars (I saw several men pull up to her and then drive away). I pulled over and told her that she was in a dangerous part of town and she should be careful. She said “Don’t worry about me. The people around here are so friendly. Those guys just offered to take me home and let me stay with them.” She did let me drive her to a safer part of town, but I couldn’t convince her that she might be in danger.

I once stopped for a beautiful young woman. I offered her a lift and she asked if her boyfriend and their dog could come too (they were hiding in the bushes, which is one possibility to explain your encounter, Phnord Prephect). I told her I was allergic to dogs. I was really allergic to boyfriends.

Well, I might take along this little Spellman graduate that I know–but only if she agrees to bring along at least one Care Bear when we head off.

At the Pentagon, it’s semi-institutionalized. People form slug lines to hitch rides to work. I haven’t done it, because I live all the way out in Annapolis, and I work weird hours. I think it’s kind of cool though.

The drivers get to ride in the commuter lanes and the riders get a free ride to work. The Pentagon built little bus-stop like structures for the slugs, but that’s the only official support the program gets.

And looking at the link above, I see that slugging’s not just for Pentagon employees. Other commuters in DC do it too.

I’ve hitchhiked, spent months doing it. I recounted the experience somewhere on the boards here, but was too damn lazy to look up a link.