Thursday, July 01, 2004

my hitchiker's dream coming true...sort of.

i've always wanted to pick up an actual. real-life hitchiker. i've discussed this with friends before...weighing in when would be the perfect and perfectly safe time to pick up one or on what basis. would i need a gun in the glove department or a switchblade in the console? or would i need nothing and take the daring risk (b/c that's part of the mystery and fun of it anyways, right?) of just picking up a total stranger and having a conversation with him/her for the duration of the road ride? i've thought about this a lot but have never yet gone through with it. i had the opportunity on my way out to L.A. last spring on several occasions in New Mexico, where there were many stragglers on the road in the middle of the desert waiting for a lift. then, i thought it would be fine, but never went through with it. i was following another car and so the objection always came up about "well, if this person shoots me and steals the car, it will throw Kaiti (driving the car ahead of me) off and she'd have to go through the hassle of chasing down this hitchiker who stole my car. or i thought of the hitchiker wanting to be dropped off at some place where we weren't going and since i was following and not on my own, it'd be hard to work that out with them and i for sure didn't want to be the one to ask permission. however, much of me wanted to pick up a hitchiker on the way to L.A. but sadly, i never did. ohhhh the regrets.

well today, on my way to work (a 10-15 minute drive on a semi-busy road/highway, but NOT interstate) i saw a 70+ year old man walking along side the road in front of a mini-mall and across the street from Meijer (kind of like walmart but better) waving at every car that passed as if they were a taxi he was trying to "flag down." I was confused. i pulled over to get something breakfasty from Burger King just so i could see what exactly this man was doing and to see if anyone would pick him up. then i thought, while sitting in the burger king drive-thru.."I could pick him up! It'd be my first every real-life hitchiker!",... so, after seeing him continually fail in flagging people down and walking a few steps when the road was void of passing cars, i pulled over to the side of the road and rolled my window down, pretending i had done this before. " need something?" i asked. He walked over to the car, leaned his head inside the window and smiled, as if he was wondering what i needed from him. "Good morning!" He said cheerfully...his blue trucker hat was cocked to the side. "Morning...did you need a ride?" i asked. he looked at me as though i were a people smuggler and kindly smiled and said, "Nope. Just saying good morning to everyone who passes by." I was perfectly embarassed. "Oh...well...good morning!" I said. He waved again and then backed away from the car...walking on, and turning around every time he heard a car about to pass. he waved at the car...bending down to the side of the road as if he were giving the side mirror a high-five on the side, and then proceeded to walk further on down the road. i drove away, watching him from my rear view mirror, laughing at this man who's on the road at 8:06 a.m. wishing cars a happy drive, or good morning...from the side of the road. i wondered how many people thought what i thought and how many actually knew what he was doing. i have a pretty generous imagination, but i'm willing to bet that no more than one car actually knew what he was doing, and furthermore, waved back and shouted good morning to him while zipping by. i suppose the niceness and peculiarity of his actions made me even more suspicious (i.e., maybe he just robbed someone's apartment and this was his getaway plan---pretty smart eh?). but nonetheless, i couldn't help but thinking of driver's education class and watching the video that shows a person driving through a neighborhood while every person out on their front lawn waves cheerfully as the driver passes, while the driver honks his/her horn politely and waves with sheer glee. perhaps this man watched that movie one too many times, but still, i would love to see this happening on a regular basis. wouldn't it be cool to get to know people via watching them every day on the side of the road greeting cars as they head toward work? "Oh there's Joel again! He's retired but yet, he always finds time to say 'Good morning!' Gee that'd be swell!!!! (I'm only kidding)----No, but would be.


Chalupa said...

Dude that's awesome that you stopped. You know my first action to the old guy would probably be to laugh at him for wanting to say good morning to people and I realize how sad that is. There's really nothing wrong with wanting to wish people a good day. There's really something wrong with society when it just seems not right for somebody to want to do that. I also think it's sad that I'm too afraid to try and help out somebody in need sometimes...just cause you never know what might happen when you try to help somebody out.

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