Monday, March 10, 2008

Hitch Hikers Guide To The Fallacies?

In my twenties mostly, and some into my thirties, I was not afraid to walk to the side of any street and stick out a thumb or hold up a sign. It was a decent way to get from A to B in a country where you couldn’t afford to buy or rent a car and I enjoyed the whole process of meeting odd people and hearing their stories.

Nowadays, I am very careful in my selection, but I still rescue people from the side of the road and often give disheveled characters rides down the back roads of Selma. In some ways I consider it payback for my youthful thumbing and in some ways I just find it all amusing.

The gamble around here is always the smell. Some of these guys can overpower an air-conditioning unit in a truck in a hurry. There are also the crazies that start to drool and babble, and usually want you to “go a little further” down to the local shithole bar and then hit you up for cash when you get there, having just driven a mile out of your way for them.

Like I said, I am very careful in my selection.

There is an old feller I have picked up a few times that lives a mile down the road from me. I won’t take him to his house but I will overshoot our driveway by the mile and deposit him at the foot of his driveway. He must be in his early sixties and he always walks with an old cammo-green backpack from the seventies. On his head he wears a clean bandana around long, brightly red (like Bonnie Raitt’s) hair. He sports a red Fu Man Chu goatee and mustache ensemble, and is so freckled that his white skin is by far the minority color on his body.

One of our conversations recently went like this--

Me- “I’m a Californian too.”

Red guy- “ Yeah, I lived in San Francisco back in the 50’s. I had the double whammy, you know, red hair and freckles, and I didn’t have many friends. Then I had to start wearing glasses when I was fourteen and all hell broke loose. Nobody wanted anything to do with me. Plus we moved around a lot. Sometimes, we lived in one place for maybe only a couple of weeks. My father was an electrical engineer and the government hired him to infiltrate the Communist Party building and bug it. True! True! And then they found out about it and we started getting these phone calls like “Do you know where your redheaded kid is?” and my parents were forced to keep us moving. Hell yeah, I lived all over San Francisco, and The Bay Area until I got out of High School. Having red hair and freckles and glasses didn’t make it all any easier, though.”

Me- “This your driveway?”

Red Guy- “Yep.”

8 comments:

citizen of the world said...

I often want to pick up hitchhikers - especially when the weatehr is bad - but just feel like it is too dangerous for me. But nice of you to do that. Be careful.

Jeannie said...

I used to hitchhike a lot - I think I was nuts. My husband picks people up but there aren't many hitchhikers any more. I used to pick them up - the last were a few young girls that were probably running away from home or something stupid like that but even that was probably over 10 years ago.

Stucco said...

Crazy people are normally at least interesting. Better commie stories than Amway lectures.

Cheesy said...

I feel his redheaded pain~~~

Bob said...

just a few weeks ago we gave a lady a ride home - she had locked the keys in a borrowed car. she was from up north, had come down to live with her friend who was recovering from some kind of surgery, help take care of the kids.

there was one stop on the way.....for her to buy a forty!

Billy said...

You're braver than I ... but your reward shall be great in heaven, Valhalla, or wherever you've made reservations -:)

Mushy said...

That's funny! But, so sad.

travistee said...

That's cute, Scott. I always want to pick up hitchhikers like my family did in the 60s and 70s. Can't do it though...