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Wednesday, October 1. 2014
Hitchhikers: A Maggie's Autumn Scientific Poll
I was recently driving from New Haven to Boston and picked up the first hitchhiker I've seen in quite a while. He was hitching to Augusta, Maine, a Navy guy on leave.
I asked him why he did it. He told me had hitched since his early teens, and just liked it. I told him I used to hitch all over the Northeast, mostly going to see gals. Nobody gave me use of a car when I turned 16, or even when I graduated from college.
It seems to me that hitchhiking in the Northeast is a disappearing tradition. Too bad - it was a good thing, always interesting, but maybe that was a more innocent era.
Seen any lately? Given any a ride?
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Haven't seen any in quite some time.
Only picked up a few in my day. And it's been many years since. Just don't see that many.
I have not seen any, and I would likely hesitate to pick them up.
It is, and was, a great tradition. I hitchhiked through Europe in the 80's. I doubt I would today. Back then, animosity toward Americans was growing. I imagine it can be severe today.
Even here in the US, the risk of unhinged folk being the hitcher (a common movie theme which used to be great when you wanted your date to put her arms around you when she jumped with fear) has probably put the kibosh on both hitcher and driver - you just don't know what you're getting in either case.
Seen them but I would not pick them up. Hitchhiking came from an era before endless torts. All "she" has to do for a payoff is claim rape. All he has to do is slit your throat. There is absolutely no upside to picking up strangers anymore even if we once did it to 'help' people on the road.
I'm stupid enough to stop and help push your car out of the ditch but I reckon I can deal with it if it turns into an attempted crime. There is ZERO defense against he said/she said though, so that's out.
It's been so long since I've seen one, I had forgotten about this fine method of travel. Now it's called "ride-sharing," and nobody hardly does that.
I hitched quite a bit in youth. If you looked clean, you'd always get a ride, usually from a sales guy on the road who just wanted conversation to stay awake.
I got arrested for hitchhiking once, on the Taconic Parkway. Maybe there are laws now.
I picked up a hitchhiker a couple of months ago. He was an older guy, in his seventies and apparently hitchhiked all over.
I recall hitchhiking in NE, also to visit girls. Made a couple of forays south as well. The folks who pick you up can be just as strange, if not stranger, than the folks hitchhiking ;)
The only place I routinely see hitchhikers is the "slug line" outside the Pentagon (they "top up" cars that want to use the HOV-4 lanes on I-95). I'd take one of them, if I were going that way. But no chance I'd pick up anybody else, due to two events that happened just after I turned 16.
First one, I was working at a local vet's on the weekends. He remembered all the fun times he had hitching all over the place, and he told himself he'd always help out other people doing the same. (He was washing puke out of his car out behind the clinic early Saturday morning when he explained this to me.)
Second one, a 19-year-old friend picked up a guy-- who then started on some super-weird comments about when she would be expected home, etc. As it happens, she then came to a red light, and there were a group of fire fighters passing the boot. She popped out of her car and said, "I need your help" and the guy ejected out of the passenger seat. He was later arrested for kidnapping, raping and murdering another young woman under similar circumstances-- my friend gave a drawing to the police, which was key to identifying him.
I stopped picking up hitchikers about 8 years ago. While I didn't have any problems it was clear that all the ones I was picking up had some clear mental health issues. Regular joes were not looking for rides and the unfortunates pushed out of the mental hospitals were taking their place.
You've said it, I may have picked up one or two in life time that I hadn't known, maybe, but all I've learned is what you pointed out, dirty jobs guy. You can make book it's getting worse out there, all over America.
Fortunately, while not completely eliminating danger, "uber" and other ride sharing options are coming on to provide some options, and a little safety, more than the raw life on the road.
Which brings back some of the stories of the days when hitching a ride on a train, wasn't so safe either. Some hobos were sick psychos, and there was always the bull working his train, some of which at least were sociopaths bullies, of a worst case sort.
Travel on the cheap, without papers-records has been/is risky.
Hell, imagine traveling on a tramp steamer, with a bad foreign crew of near conscripted types, even these days, and maybe you just happen to be the wrong type of rider.
These days, by any means, its dangerous to be a paying passenger, by any transport, any more, just a level of order less dangerous at the moment. But don't tell that to Klinghoffer, and other horrific victims.......
Correct. Last hitchhiker I picked up had left Florida (where he was looking for bigfoot) and was headed for Washington State where Sasquatch had migrated. Interesting conversation but I got concerned and let him out in Memphis.
Where I live you don't even have to stick out your thumb. If you are walking along the road people will stop and ask if you need a ride.
I picked up hitchhikers a few times in the 70s and have helped people with car trouble but Mrs. Feeblemind does not want me to do either anymore.
I recall one time in 1979 when I was headed home late on a Sunday night. A Summer thunderstorm had just passed. I was on a lonely rural highway about 11:30 p.m. near Syracuse, Nebraska when I saw what looked like a crazy lunatic on the next hill, illuminated in the lightning flashes and waving his arms. He had long hair that was half wet and flying everywhere, his shirt tail was blowing in the wind and he was dirty. So I pulled over. Turned out he was a nice man. He had been to an r/c airplane meet in Wichita. He was driving what may have been a 1964 Impala and the transmission had died on his way home to Omaha. He thanked me profusely as no one would pick him up. I took him into Syracuse to a motel and never saw him again.
Lots of people still hitchhiked in Romania as recently as 2000. I assume there's still some.
There was a difference between local and long-distance hitching. http://assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com/2011/02/hitchhiking.html
I used to hitchhike quite a bit in my early twenties. I must have looked pretty innocent because I got rides quickly and sometimes even from families.
I don't know if the danger is greater now, or just the perception of danger is greater.
These days the only hitch hikers I see are pretty skeevy or unbalanced looking.
The other problem is that the police are far less forgiving than they used to be. In earlier days I might be chased off the highway with a warning to stay off. These days I'd probably be cuffed and hauled away.
I did quite a lot of hitching in my younger days. I once hitched from Berserkeley to NooYawk in 72 hours. In those days, 1000 miles in 24 hours wasn't that unusual for hitching. In fact, I felt disappointed if I didn't reach that. Hitching was my primary mode of transportation until I finally graduated from college and got a professional job.
The last time I did long distance driving, 4 years ago, I didn't see any hitchers. Times have changed.
As Interstate Highway traffic has increased a lot in the last 40 years, it is now much less safer to pull over and pick up hitchers.
Rarely see hitchhikers anymore, for many years now. Saw one yesterday. Briefly considered picking him up but didn't. I was only going another couple miles on that road. But I doubt I would have picked him up anyway.
Did a bit of it as a yute. Used to pick people up. Long time ago.
I used to love hitchhiking. Got my first ride when I was in the 7th grade. But then--late 50's--hitchhiking had a less savory reputation, at least following WWII. You used to see small shelters along the road, then, and I'd come to believe they were for servicemen hitching rides back home.
Police have eliminated the hitchhikers from the highways.
I haven't seen many, but I would probably offer a ride if I was going a long way.
Hitchhiking has been replaced by the internet.
I did a quick google search for 'ride share montreal to toronto' and found a page on craigslist.
Dozens of companies and individuals offering rides.
I never went hitchhiking.
Too many people picking up hitchhikers end up mugging and murdering them (especially truckers).
I'd never pick up a hitchhiker either.
Too many criminals among them, too many people pick up hitchhikers end up mugged and their cars stolen, or worse.
Used to hitchhike a lot to/from Fort Devens/Boston in '67.
I haven't hitchhiked since I was picked up by the MPs when I was at Fort Riley, KS in '69. I thought it was funny since I was at a courtesy ride point. Had to spend all morning at the MP station until one of our lieutenants came to get me.
Maybe picked up one or two strangers in the mid 70s in Austin, but sorta got out of the habit. Since then, only have offered rides to friends/acquaintances.
People will offer a ride without your asking if you appear to need one.
One thing that amazes people the first time they visit Israel is the widespread practice of hitch-hiking. This runs counter to the image the media has constructed of Israel as a dangerous war zone.
Soldiers, students, and people like me who live in the newer suburbs and/or settlements still hitch rides in large numbers. Israelis in larger cities, less so.
I think it was writer John Ringo who did a piece on "High Trust" vs "Low Trust" societies.
High Trust is (or was) the USA before "multiculturalism" or "diversity" was introduced.
In a High Trust society you have an expectation that you will be treated fairly and that most of the people you encounter, day to day, will be similar to you in manners, honesty and morals. In the fifties, that's the country I grew up in. (Ringo's) example; if I lend my lawn mower to my neighbor he will return it and with more gas in the tank then when I lent it to him, plus it will be undamaged. That was the environment in which I hitchhiked and also when I would pick up hitchers.
In a Low Trust society (tribal) where you only trust the people in your family, then those in your village, maybe in other nearby villages if they share the same tribe. At each step away from your family the trust you share drops until someone ten miles away becomes the "others".
When Low Trust people come to this country and they encounter Americans they inevitably think us to be naive or stupid. The native American living next door, seeing that the grass is getting a little high on his new neighbors lawn might offer to loan his lawn mower to the Low Trust immigrant. Who will accept it, thinking that this American is soft in the head and who will likely never see that mower again unless it shows up four months later, broken and completely worn out after being used by everyone in the LT guys family and his kid ran a grass cutting business with it all summer. Low Trust people don't hitchhike.
A lot of (Westerners) people do still hitchhike in the countries of the Levant and will encounter friendly people. Coming out the other side unscathed. They beat the odds which are much poorer than in Europe or here.
It's illegal here. "Except as otherwise provided by county ordinance, no person shall stand in, walk along, or otherwise occupy a portion of a highway for the purpose of soliciting a ride, employment, business, or contributions from the occupant of any vehicle."
This fellow was driving down the road, having a good day. He was in a great mood. He saw a disheveled-lookin’ hitchhiker and decided he’d stop and give this guy a ride; after all, he wanted to help out someone and maybe a ride might improve that guy’s day.
The guy stops, the hitchhiker gets in, and the driver attempts to engage in conversation. Unsuccessfully. The hitchhiker just grunts when asked a question.
So the driver decides that the hitchhiker must indeed be having a bad day.
A few miles down the road, in a somewhat deserted area, the hitchhiker pulls a pistol, points it at the driver, and tells him to pull over to the side of the road.
After the car stops, he tells the driver to give him the car keys, and to get out of the car. The driver complies; after all, what can he do? This guy’s got a gun!
They both step behind the car, whereupon the hitchhiker tells the driver to strip.
“Yeah, STRIP! You heard me!”
The hitchhiker has the drop on him, so the driver proceeds to remove his clothes. All of them.
The hitchhiker rummages in the trunk of the car and finds some cord, and beckons the driver to walk over to the guard rail alongside the pulloff. He tells the driver, now stark naked, to bend over the guard rail, and the hitchhiker proceeds to tie the driver’s wrists to his ankles so that he is bent over the guard rail and is unable to move, other than to wiggle his posterior somewhat. The hitchhiker ties the cords TIGHT.
The hitchhiker walks back to the car, and says. “Thanks for the lift, pal!” and takes off, spinning gravel onto the driver, who is now wondering what he did to deserve such a fate. He was having such a great day.
Eventually a truck driver slows down, pulls off and walks over to the stranded driver, whose butt is pointed up in the air, and asks, “What the hell happened to you, buddy?”
This poor naked soul relates his sad story to the truck driver, who now is unzipping his fly.
The truck driver says, “Buddy, this just ain’t your day, is it?”
As a child I hitch hiked often. The strangest situation I ever encounter was in the early 50's I was about 10 and I was hitch hiking to the golf course to caddy. A lady in a new Lincoln with two very small children in the backseat picked me up and drove me to the golf course which was out of the way. I had never gotten a ride from a woman before or since and certainly not from a woman in a new Lincoln (they were really quite the car back then). Obviously in retrospect I recognize that she was afraid for me being a very young boy hitch hiking. I got the chance to pay it forward one cold rainy night in Alaska when I almost hit a very young girl (probably 13) hitch hiking. I pulled over and gave her a ride right to where she was going. I was both worried about her being hit on the side walkless road or being picked up by some nutcase. I fully understood then why that young housewife back in 1953 picked up a boy with his thumb out.