Would you/Have you ever pick/picked up a hitchhiker?

Sorry, I’m a Generation Xer. I’ve seen too many movies where stopping to help someone ended up in death.

I’ll never never ever ever do it. Not even if it’s 30 degrees below zero and it looks like a suburban family with a flat tire has broken down. Won’t do it!

But what about you? Given this board, I’m sure there are stories.

I hitchhiked a lot when I was at college - late 80s, early 90s. When I left I got a job as a driver for a year, and I made a pledge: to “pay it forward” and make up for all those kind people who gave me lifts over the years, I would never drive by a hitchhiker, no matter what they looked like.

Most were normal, students like me and so on, or people working for car companies who drive a new car to a garage then hitch back. But I also met a some “interesting” people: a sober wino who spoke fluently about being a wino; a skinhead lesbian who put a Dobermann between us with a vicious snarl (the girl, not the dog); a clearly mentally ill girl going to see the man in Bath who she reckoned had impregnated her. The only bad experience I had was an ex-Marine (so he said) who started shaking, then turned to me and said “the anger has subsided now”. I faked it and dropped him off at the next exit.

Then I started to get paranoid about picking up female hitchhikers: what if I dropped her off and something happened to her? So I stopped doing that, then I left the country and didn’t have a car for years.

I occasionally stop now, but usually I am being selfish/in a hurry/don’t want to talk to anyone else. I would never ever do it in the US, though. You’ve got guns. :wink: (And we’ve got knives, I acknowledge.)

I used to hitchhike regularly, but this was back in the 70s. Times are very different now.

I also used to pick up hitchhikers, but again, times are very different. I really wish that we could go back to being able to pick up thumbers, it would be a great way to help conserve gas/diesel, and a way to meet people one normally wouldn’t meet.

I used to give rides to people who appeared to be stranded. Now I might pull over and make a phone call for them.

About a year ago, I sprained my knee pretty badly and I was on crutches. I stopped by a gas station for beers one night on my way home from work, about elevenish. As I was hobbling my way back to the car, a very tiny but enormously pregnant teenaged girl approached me and asked if I could give her a ride to an intersection about a mile up the road. I thought to myself, “Self, what’s the danger? She’s tiny and hugely pregnant. Even if she stabs you in the ear whilst driving, she won’t be able to fit behind the steering wheel.*” So I said sure and unlocked my passenger door.

And then she waved over her previously unmentioned much older, huge and thuggish boyfriend, who was apparently also going with us.

Nothing bad happened, but the whole time they were in my car I was very worried that I had been targeted for something nasty, that the pregnant girl was just a trick to make me feel guilty enough to let them in my car. Then after I dropped them off, I felt terrible for being suspicious and afraid. :frowning:

*At the time I was driving a 1992 Ford Festiva. I barely fit behind the steering wheel.

Yeah, I used to pick up hitchikers. I always figure … I’m the one behind the wheel of the car, I’m in control, if anyone starts something how are they really going to stop me from driving straight to the nearest police station? I didn’t generally do it when I was by myself though (well, I wasn’t usually driving those kind of roads by myself in the first place)

Don’t do it any more though. Two kids, husband … no room, no room!

I hitchhiked thousands of miles in the '70s. From Windsor to Vancouver and back, and all around Southern Ontario, and I never got picked up by a werido. I wouldn’t try it now, or pick anybody up now; the times are different.

In the late 50’s I hitched between NE Ohio and No. Florida several times, once even beat the time of the Greyhound express. Then I once hitched from Pittsburgh to KC, then on to Phoenix and back to KC.
I used to occasionally pick up hitchers, even after I started trucking, until one time, on 395 in So. Cal. I saw this young couple w/ a baby, trying for a ride. It was a very hot day, so I stopped. They were only going a couple of miles but, just before we got there, a pick-up caught up w/ me and tried to run my truck off the road. There were three, or four, guys in the P/U, I put out a call on my CB for the cops, and when I stopped at my passengers destination, I told them to stay in the truck. A cop showed up a few minutes later and took charge. Turns out the guy, w/ the girl, was her boyfriend and one of the guys in the P/U was the baby’s father. The father didn’t want her, but he was going to take the baby because he didn’t approve of her having another guy. Anyway, that cured me from picking up thumbers.

Yup, I have picked up hitchikers and stranded people many times. I don’t do it when my children are in the car, usually. We did give one guy a ride one night (husband was also in the car) because the poor guy was walking up our (very rural and out-of-the-way) road from his broken-down pickup carrying abut 4 bags of groceries. We gave him a ride to his house, which turned out to be just about a mile before ours.

I feel guilty when I don’t at least offer a ride. My father used to have to walk a lot. He always had hoopties and they would break down forcing him to walk home from Nashville (over 30 miles) on occasion. I always appreciated people who offered him rides. I guess I feel like in some small way, I am returning the favours.

Oh, and yeh, I have accepted a ride from strange men before. Nothing bad ever happened. The worst that ever happened was a guy who gave me a ride when I lived in Seattle (it was 3 am, and I had a 20 mile walk looming) asked for my phone number. When I told him that I was flattered but had a live-in boyfriend he told me he’d like to kick my bf’s ass for making me walk home like that. Most people aren’t psycho-killers. Or I am just lucky.

Are times really that different? I see that people have changed their minds after viewing fictional accounts of hitch-hiking incidents, but what are the actual statistics?

I have hitched all over starting in the early 80’s and I still do,just did yesterday as a matter of fact.Though I was only 2 miles from home and had just got done walking about 7 miles all over the woods looking for mushrooms.Once I got to the road I was tired of walking so I hung out my thumb.Didn’t get a ride though.I have noticed that it seems much harder to get a ride than it was in the 80’s.
That said,I pick up almost every hitcher I see,with a few exceptions.I will not pick someone up who doesn’t feel its important to turn and face the traffic,if you want a ride at least show me your face instead of walking with your back to the traffic holding out your thumb.I will not pick up anyone with a pirates hook for a hand,wearing an eye patch and holding a sign that says anywhere.I usually wont pick more than one at a time, tho I have on occasion.
The last three I picked up have all been drunk and asked me for money and cigarettes.

I was picked up one time, when I opened the door to get in, there was a big knife and a baseball bat on the passengers seat,the handle of the bat was wrapped in electrical tape.
I said"Jeez,ya lookin for a fight?" he said “They come in handy.”
The guy that picked me up became a friend of mine as we both were serious pool players at the time.We traveled together playing tournaments and what not.After awhile we lost touch. Then one day, I see him on the news arrested for murder.That was sorta creepy.

My father used to live in an area that was like a long strip of beach towns, and teens/college age people would routinely hitch up and down along the town road that ran along the water – they’d be wearing bathing suits and flip-flops so it always seemed normal that they were going from one beach to another. I often picked them up, although it did cross my mind that a smart serial killer could wear a bathing suit and blend in with everyone else. Our rule was that if we were going to hitch, it had to be with one or more other girls so we wouldn’t get in a car alone.

The hitching seemed like an established part of the culture in that area, but I haven’t/wouldn’t do it in a more random, lonesome place.

I’ve hitched all over the UK, France, Holland, Belgium, Israel and Spain, as well as parts of Romania and Nicaragua (where you were expected to pay a small amount to the driver).

These days when driving alone in the UK and Spain I will only stop for women hitchhikers.

In the Dominican Republic you don’t see hitchhikers as such, but people waiting for public transport will sometimes ask you for a lift. We recently picked up a heavily pregnant woman in those circumstances, and when the road got very bumpy we had visions of her giving birth in the back seat. My dad, who was visiting at the time and is a retired doctor, whispered nervously that he hadn’t delivered a baby for 35 years. Luckily it didn’t come to that. Our vehicle broke down in the middle of nowhere, and as she was from the local area she knew exactly where to take us to find a mechanic, so she ended up saving the day.

I’ve never hitched, but I have given rides two or three times to people walking on the shoulder of a road away from broken down cars (with the hood up). And twice I’ve pulled over to help random struggling strangers put on their spare tire, and many more times to give people a jump start. I like to feel useful in this world.

It did cross my mind that this could be some sort of set up, but from what I’ve raead, those sorts of setups (involving fake breakdowns) generally involve more than one person, i.e., an attractive female to flag attention and one or two “friends”. After all, a single person with a gun can simply do a carjacking at a red light or parking lot if that’s what they’re looking to do.

This was 14 or 15 years ago though, back before everybody had cell phones and these were people who were in for a long walk to nowhere before finding a phone to call AAA or what have you. Nowadays I’d just offer to let them make a phone call.

Damn I feel old now. I remember driving before the Cell Phone Era!

We used to pick them up a lot back in High School. We were a car load of guys and we’d fuck with them a little, but we were usually pretty cool about it. I remember meeting some pretty interesting people.

I’ve hitchhiked a couple times. The longest was from Ithaca, NY to Philadelphia. Two rides. The second one, no shit, with a hot woman in a BMW who let us smoke in the car. She took us a couple hundred miles.

I do have an uncle who got beat up hitchhiking once. I highly suspect he flipped someone off, or otherwise mouthed off.

Like others, I used to hitch all the time and so when I got a car I used to pick up hitchers regularly. I had a few that were scary, but none that ended up being a problem.

I don’t see them much any more, but I will sometimes pick one up when I do. It depends on how far I’m going and how convenient it is to pick them up (I’m notoriously messy and so sometimes it would just be a hassle to have to clear a space for them.)

A few years ago (since I’ve been on the dope anyway) I picked up a young man who was hitching to his brother’s funeral. He said he hadn’t eaten in a while. I gave him a few bucks for a meal. I dunno if I was conned, but I could afford it and what the heck.

I’ve hitched back to my car when hiking, and hikers are pretty good about picking up fellow hikers. If I’m in the mountains and I see someone with a pack, I’ll always stop and offer a ride. I’ve hitched probably a half dozen times in the past 10 years given about the same number of rides.

In high school I always drove piece of junk cars that broke down on me. I was picked up about 10 times and taken to school every time. I figure I looked pretty safe… I was 16 or 17 and wearing a uniform for Catholic school. Never had anything bad happen and never encountered any weirdos.

Now I try to help people when I see them stranded near an obviously out-of-commission car, but won’t just pick up any random person I see walking. I can’t even remember the last time I saw your typical “thumb out” type hitchhiker, but it’s been a long, long time.

When I was at University of Miami (FL) in the late 60s I hitched back and forth to the Keys routinely. T-shirt, shorts and sneakers were the uniform of the day. And a cardboard sign reading either KEYS or U of M was the ticket to ride. Once I was picked up southbound by a lovely young lady who had just dropped her parents off at the airport. We spent a week at their house on the water in Tavernier, fishing and diving on their boat days and partying mightily nights. She dropped me at UM on her way back to the airport. But most hitches were less interesting.

For long distance hitching, I had a 5 gallon gas can that I sawed in half and hinged back together. That was my luggage. Stand by a road anywhere with a gas can and even people who would never pick up a hitch hiker will stop for you. “Where’s your car?” “Don’t have a car-- see?” The typical reaction was “That’s a great gimmick!!” Traveled all over the eastern US that way, summers.

Ditto. I’ll pick up a woman in distress, but not guys. Too scary today.