Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.


A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hitchin' a Ride


So I have a strange addiction.  Well, maybe it’s not an addiction, per-say- but an impulsive reaction that I have thankfully learned to control. Mostly.  But it hasn't been easy.

Alright.  Here it is.  I cannot pass a hitchhiker without the urge of a mad woman to swerve and pick them up.  I realize this isn’t your typical, impulsive move- such as buying a pair of designer shoes that one cannot afford.  Though both results have potential for dangerous consequences.
  
A few years ago, I made a promise to someone who cares about my well-being (and apparently has much more will-power than I do) to not pick up hitchhikers anymore.  No longer impulsive, I still fight an internal battle every time I pass one.

However, you must know that my initial thought is always one of compassion.  This poor person is stuck without a vehicle.  How terribly sad, I think because  I’ve been there and it is a terrible feeling.  People gave me rides.  I should pay it forward, right?  Granted, I only rode with people I knew, or just met in a bar, or the back alley of an Italian restaurant, so it was much different.

It all started one day many years ago when I saw a lady and her young daughter back in Minnesota on the side of the road with groceries in her arms, standing in the rain.  Now, how could I not stop for someone like that??  Of course she would be harmless.  She was a mom.  All moms are virtually harmless.  Plus I was 17 and immortal.

A few years later there was a guy about my age on the side of the road in Maine.  He looked harmless enough.  I was feeling adventurous and decided to pick him up.  I asked him where he was going.  He said to the mall.  Why?  Because he just found a $20 bill and wanted to go get his nose pierced- naturally.  To each their own, I suppose.  Turns out he didn’t have a job, or a car, and lived on his parents' couch.  He was 19.  I really tried not to judge.  I mean- what freedom, right?  Yeeaah...

Now it seems in Maryland I am passing hitchhikers every day.  So I asked myself, are there more of them here for some reason?  It must be a safe place to hitchhike because it seems so many people do it!  And as I drive to work every morning in my big truck with plenty of seating, I reluctantly must pass these strangers on the side of the road.  Suddenly guilt takes over and fights a battle in my head- between the guilt and the practical.


I have to pretend that I don’t see them and look the other direction- which isn’t always easy when driving.  Don’t make eye contact.  Don’t make eye contact.  Then they stick their thumb nearly in front of the vehicle- so much that I often must do a courtesy swerve- you know, being courteous not hitting them.  They should be thankful.


Instead I look in my rearview mirror and see them throw their arms up in the air in disappointment.  If they look really angry, it eases my guilt a little.  If they look sad and hang their head down, it takes everything in me not to turn around and at least roll my window down a crack to shout, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know for sure that you’re not a cold-blooded killer that would do bad things to me.”  Surely then, they would understand.

You may wonder how I forge onward through this guilt.  Well, I’ll tell you straight- it isn’t easy.  There is only one thing in which I can justify my un-neighborly behavior.   I have children to feed.   I could not leave them motherless if I have any choice in the matter.  And therefore, I let practical wins- this time- though I won't pretend it's easy.


   

10 comments:

  1. It has become a sadly ingrained belief that hitchikers are dangerous to those who offer them a lift, it isn't fair of those who are genuinely in need, and it isn't fair on those hitchikers who themselves have been preyed upon. One of those modern issues for which there are no answers. I always feel guilty passing them by. But most of them are standing in rather obtuse places. :)

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    1. It is sad! And what obtuse places are you speaking of? Lol

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  2. Dude. I do this too. Totally.

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  3. Julia, my husband was the same way. He hitchhiked across Canada right after high school, so of course had a soft spot for hitchhikers. He finally realized they weren't all harmless like him, and thank goodness it was just a realization that hit him, not some bad experience. Plus I think it's illegal here. I rarely see hitchhikers here in Texas. (My husband is from Maryland!)

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    1. Maybe it's a Maryland thing?? I think it's illegal in MN. At least my mom used to tell me that. She told me many stories though! :)

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  4. Thanks for making that promise and honoring it! Your life is much more important to me and the kiddos than that persons need to get to the mall and get his nose pierced....or slaughter you mercilessly and leave you on the side of the road while we all wonder "why"!!!

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  5. You are very kind hearted, but as stated, your safety is more important than anything! We all need you. (I'm sure it's illegal to pickup hitchhikers in MD too! :) ) L.Y.

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    1. This has to be Mom. Boy this post has generated much family input! I promise I won't pick any up anymore. Geesh!! ;)

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