I was reading clickclack gorilla’s hitching story and it dawned on me what’s going on in Europe with hitch-hiking is entirely different from it in the US. Evidently thumbing rides there still includes ‘respectable’ people. It wasn’t so long ago the same was true in the US.
As a youngster and young man I hitched across the US up-down and sideways more times than I’ve traveled it any other way. In the military it used to be the most common way soldiers traveled, but it was also a legitimate way of getting to a destination for anyone else, as well. When I got out of jail for riding trains in Rochester, New York, in 1964, the judge at the arraignment told me, “Don’t you know hopping trains in New York is a FELONY?”
“No sir. I didn’t know that.”
“Is there someone you can contact to get money for a bus ticket to get back to New Mexico?”
“No sir, there isn’t.”
“I’m going to say this, then I’m going to let you go. Hitch-hiking is only a misdemeanor in New York.”
After I was released a police officer drove me out to the Interstate and let me off at a freeway entrance. And way led onto way.
All that hitching as a youth was an adventure I suspect a lot of people alive today haven’t experienced. Every trip was a hundred stories, including the one above. And every hitch-hiker I’ve picked up over the decades since [I still do] has been a story in itself. I keep a case of Dinty Moore stew in the truck and usually give them a can or two if they’ve convinced me they’re hungry.
Today people are generally frightened of hitch-hikers, or just don’t believe the potential feel-good rewards of picking them up is worth the risk of getting robbed, assaulted, or just being trapped inside a vehicle with a person who smells as though he’s been on the road a while is worth it. I’d opine they’re thinking smart. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had some close calls, both hitching, and picking up hitch-hikers.
But I do it anyway, and I’m glad I do, glad I have, wouldn’t trade having done it for the alternative.
I’m thinking I might throw in a few of those hitch-hiking, hitch-hiker tales on this blog occasionally. Some are chilling, some are strange, but every one is unique.
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL – SWEET HITCH-HIKER