Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Here we have a common sight in Mathews: a hitchhiker.

This particular hitchhiker was hunting for lunch in the ditch behind him, but when he saw me coming he straightened up and stuck out his thumb his beak. I didn't have room in the car for a heron this particular day so I smiled politely, waved and kept on driving. He did not look pleased.

Hitchhiking simply was not a big deal when we were growing up. In fact, we knew most of the regular hitchhikers in Mathews and had no problem pulling over to give them a ride. Nobody ever worried about being held at gunpoint, never to be seen nor heard from again. It just wasn't like that.

As I've mentioned before, many of our locals enjoy the occasional drink, which is to say that they drink to any occasion, up to and including waking up in the morning. Sometimes these folks lose their driving privileges for good and resort to riding around town on lawn mowers, bicycles and scooters. Others just hoof it. Others hitchhike.

Back in the 1980's--before cell phones, GPS systems, and cars that can take your blood pressure reading and refer you to a specialist if needed--my college roommates and I routinely hitchhiked, it was how we got home from fraternity parties got around Rugby Road in Charlottesville.

But then there was the time we were driving my VW Bug on I-64 from Richmond to Charlottesville. I think we were coming back from a Police concert but it could have been Prince. Anyway, thanks to my attention to detail the VW ran out of gas in the middle of the interstate. It was dark, but we weren't too far (10-15 miles?) from our exit. Without giving it a second thought, we pulled the car over on the shoulder, got out, stuck out our thumbs, and ended up riding the rest of the way in the cab of a Breyers Ice Cream tractor trailer.

And we lived to tell about it.

Today, even if I were armed with a machine gun and had Mr. T. as a bodyguard, there's no way anybody could pay me money to get in the cab of a tractor trailer traveling down the interstate at night. We won't even mention the conniptions, hissy fits, and fire-breathing dragons involved if my children ever did something as dumb as that.

Did you ever hitchhike?

Disclaimer: The author in no way condones hitchhiking in modern times and is only talking about the Paleolithic Era, when the world was a little kinder and gentler, and stupid teenagers on the side of I-64 were not only stupid, they were very, very lucky.


ghostless said...

Back in the really ancient times of the 60's my boyfriend use to have me hitch or thumbing as it was called. I would stand there and thumb a ride while he would discreetly hide and when the car stopped he would join me for the lift. Guess I was the bait!

Val said...

oh yes - and it was fun meeting all those random kind people - only one wierdo. Even way back then tho it was without parental approval!!!

Pueblo girl said...

I did it loads - always in company though. It was how I travelled on holiday. Never had anything other than nice people pick me up - some pretty terrible drivers though. I hadn't thought about it before, but you just don't see hitch hikers these days. In the past, the slip roads onto motorways used to be crowded with them.

Kate said...

Though I never officially hitchhiked, there were a few times when I had to walk somewhere and got picked up by someone I knew.

The one instance that comes to mind was when I was in school. I didn't get out of bed early enough to ride to school with my Mom, so she left me home and refused to take me after she got back from dropping off my brothers, so I had to walk. From New Point. To school. It's about 12 miles, for those who don't know.

I was halfway between Friends Church and St. Paul Church before one of my classmate's mother was driving by, saw me and kindly picked me up and took me to school. (Thanks Ms. Conrath!)

WV: oxalists. The punishment I would give out if I had children who tried to hitchhike in these modern times.

Caution Flag said...

Boring. That's what I've always been. Even back in the "safe" days, there was always someone nearby to give me a ride after a pleading phone call. Never put a thumb or anything else out there.

Mental P Mama said...

Never ever. It has always scared me to death. But not as much as Rugby Road. That terrifies this ol' mama;)

big hair envy said...

I was at that Police concert. William & Mary were $10.00! We probably sat in the same row:) As I recall, there was a bit of light snow that night. Thank goodness I did not have to thumb a ride home;)

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

OH my, I have the best hitchhiking story ever. It was in 1993, on our honeymoon, and involves our friends, a wine-tasting daytrip outside Frankfurt Germany, and an Aryan Guardian Angel. I can't believe I haven't thought to blog this yet! I'll have to get right on that.

Daryl said...

Living in NYC I can honestly say I only hitched a ride once and I was an adult ... it was during the transit strike in the 80s ... I was walking down Broadway and this man with his kids in the car stopped at a traffic light opened his window and said 'going our way?' ... seriously. If he hadnt had his young kids in the car I would never even have replied let alone got in ... and when I told ToonMan that night he told me I was insane and could have been killed. You know ToonMan wasnt born/raised in NYC so he comes by his irrational fear naturally.

Seriously, riding the subways back then was a lot more dangerous than hitching ...

Breezeway said...

Hitchhike? Uh, NO! I wouldn't have had to worry about being killed by whomever picked me up, the murdering would have taken place when I arrived "safely" at home! We also were not allowed to ride, drive, go within a 20 miles radius of the Colonial Parkway. Of course, there WERE a series of murders occuring there during my high school years, so I guess my dad had good reason. We, of course, thought he was an idiot!

WV - hooophoy - (I've got nothing. Just thought it was an interesting "word"!)

Karen Deborah said...

umm humm matter of fact yes. Most memorable was with my young daughter a friend and a Saint Bernard dog. WE all squeezed into the back seat of a VW bug. It is true. We were all skinnier then.

Scariest was getting in a big truck with 2 men. He grabbed my butt getting into the truck. i got a very bad feeling in there and asked to get out and they let me. But it scared the crap out of me. I think that was my last time thumbing it.

TSannie said...

Once. Got picked up by band members of the old rock group Black Oak Arkansas. Let's just say an adventure was had - and one I never wanted to repeat. (People! Get your minds out of the gutter! Nuthin' like THAT happened! I do have my morals ya know!)

TSannie said...

Oh, and I wasn't alone either, but hitch-hiking with a friend.

Diane said...

Once or twice. It scared the crap out of me even in the 70s. Of course, we had Ted Bundy in our neck of the woods.

Miss you!


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Hello, all. Sorry I have been negligent here in the comments section. It will probably be this way for a while.

It's basketball season (which means work 8 hours, commute 2 hours, and attend 2 hours of basketball games several times a week). And evidently Christmas season too, although you'd never know it in my house.

It's almost 9:00 p.m. and I am only now getting home and sitting down to catch up on all my blog reading and writing.

Thank you for commenting, I always appreciate coming home from a long day and reading your words.

Ghostless-CAN'T WAIT TO HEAR IF YOU GET THE HOUSE WITH THE LITTLE RED BARN! I'll e-mail you tomorrow and we can figure out a time to get together.

Val-Glad to hear from you, hope all is well in Africa.

PG-It's true, you don't see that many any more. I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

Kate-YOU WALKED TO SCHOOL FROM NEW POINT? (Or intended to?) The only thing I've ever heard that has topped your story was my friend's husband who walked home from the Gloucester bowling Cobbs Creek! (They had had a little tiff.)

Caution Flag-I'd say you were smart and exercised common sense at a young age, you were not boring.

MPM-Rugby Road is awesome! It's not to be feared, except when you're hitchiking and a paddywagon pulls over. But then it's OK because the nice policeman drives you to your dorm without incident. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

BHE-YES!! It was William and Mary! I cannot believe we were at the same concert, attending two different colleges. Amazing.

Meg-Can't wait to read your story, I'm sure there's much to tell.

Daryl-I'm sort of with Toonman on this one; you must have been one brave soul. (But I have ridden the subway and tend to agree with you on that. Took it to a baseball game once, was in NYC on business. Ah, the good old days of business trips.)

Breezeway - My mother never knew any of this, and it's better that way. I drive the parkway to work every day and I think about those murders quite a bit, especially when someone is tailing me and it's dark and only 6:45 in the morning and there's nobody on the road. There's some activity going on with that whole case, something about evidence, but I've not had a minute to catch up on the news.

KD-I shudder to think about what might have happened with that truck incident. But three people plus a St. Bernard in teh back of a VW bug? Now that's amazing.

TSA-You must share this story in FEbruary. I tried pulling my mind out of the gutter but it isn't listening.

Diane-Miss you too. Hope K3 is doing better. Ted Bundy would certainly squash anyone's hitchhiking activity, that's for sure.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

Oh hell yeah-and we WILL discuss my hitchhiking adventures on the next juice session. I have enough stories to write a book on the proper way for a girl to hichhike! But I bet you already knew I was gonna say that!
ps- I would strap Little T's tail to the bumper of my jeep if I caught him hitchin' a ride!

foolery said...

In Maui in the late '80s I walked to work (about three miles) along the highway. People kept pulling off the road to give me rides, and looked confused when I told them "no thankyou." It got so bad I started walking on the beach, which had spotty access in many places and long kiawe tree thorns. I eventually gave up. : )

Country Girl said...

I didn't realize that you attended UVa until just now.
Yes, I hitchhiked, back in the 70's. I did it until I got picked up by a guy in a moving truck that tried to grope me. I'm still astounded that he let me out when I demanded he pull over. Hitchhiking is crazy.