So a few days ago, middle of the day, I saw something that I haven’t seen in a while - somebody trying to thumb a ride.

It was at the intersection of a main road and a highway, and I think I would have been going in the direction the hitchhiker needed to go for about 8 miles. He looked mid-20s, reasonably clean looking, and again, it was mid-day, not 1 am or something, and near busy roads. Probably a very safe thing, but too many years of built-up bad stories about hitchhikers got the better of me, and I passed him by.

Does anyone actually give rides to hitchhikers, or go hitchhiking themselves? Was I unnecessarily nervous about this?

I did one semi-hitchhiking thing when I was 20-something. My car ran out of gas, on a relatively sparse highway at night, IIRC, and a man stopped and offered me a ride to and from the gas-station, which turned out to be a significant thing, because it took us about 15-20 minutes to find a gas station. Perhaps I should have paid this back by giving the hitchhiker a ride…

My brother in law picked up a hitchhiker who pulled a knife on him, and he ended up jumping out of his own moving car, which then wrecked. The hitchhiker escaped.

This was almost 10 years ago, though.

I’m not paranoid, but I still don’t pick up hitchhikers because I don’t like talking to strangers.

That’s what your brother gets for not watching Crocodile Dundee.

“You call that a knife? Here’s a KNIFE!”

Hitchhike, and pick them up, only in resort/tourist areas. The road that only goes to the ski resort? Probably ok. The road that leads away from the State Prison? Well, maybe next time.

Now he keeps a gun under his seat, if that makes you feel better.

Never pick up hitchhikers without a passenger eject seat installed.

A passenger eject seat is more James Bond.

“You expect me to walk?”

“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to fly!”

Well done.

Needs a maniacal laugh track!

It depends on the situation, but it’s generally not going to happen. I’ve stopped to help disabled motorists before, but that can even be sketchy thanks to jackholes who like to take advantage of good samaritans.

Even if you’re a karate master of the pan flute, which I am, it’s way to easy for someone to mess with you while you’re driving.

Yeah, I’ve stopped for people with car trouble, but never a hitcher. Most of the ones I see don’t look exactly, uhm, normal.

You mean you wouldn’t pick up someone proclaiming themselves to be Jesus while they have shit smeared on their face and their pants pulled down to their knees?

Where’s your sense of adventure?

I’d pick up a hitchhiker if I was driving Kurt Russell’s Death Proof car.

Otherwise, probably not.

The only time I picked up a hitchhiker was on vacation on a St. John’s figured it was an island with only one road from where I was into town. Felt a little weird,but that is because I am a terrible smalltalker…and he could have killed me thousands of miles from home.

I’ve been both the picked up and the picker upper regarding stranded with car troubles.

When I lived in a college town, I’d give hitch hikers rides all the time. Most of the time I was alone in my '72 Nova.

  • 2:00am and I’m finally heading off campus, it’s pouring rain, and there’s a girl waving her arms furiously at the side of the road. I gave her a ride to Denny’s (which would have been about an hour walk for her, in the rain).

  • Two punk rock kids heading to LA; I gave them a ride to a freeway that actually goes that way. These kids offered to pay me with cigarettes (I didn’t smoke); I bargained them down to a stick of gum.

  • People going on and off campus, all the time. I’d stop at a bus stop and fill 'er up.

I’d hitch hike around town too. Once, it was around 3am and I was going home. I saw the last bus head up to do the campus loop, so I waited patiently on the other side of the street for it to come back. Meanwhile, a cop car drove by. It slowed down… we made eye contact (mine were tired and pathetic)… the cops checked me out, then floored it. Twenty minutes later the bus came back but didn’t stop; I got up and started waving my arms furiously. When it finally stopped 20 feet down, I ran to it. As it turned out, it was past schedule and I’d successfully flagged it down, hitch hiking a bus. Yes, like in that one book by Robbins. Except once on board I burst into tears. But that’s a whole nother story.

I once got a ride from a punked, gay, radio DJ that hit me while biking, bending the frame. I don’t know if that really counts as “hiking” though. More like hitchhitting.

I’ve hitchhiked a lot. Once caught a ride 300 miles. I’ve been sketched out sometimes and moved nearly to tears by the kindness of strangers. I just use my gut feelings about picking people up or accepting rides.

In 1994, a buddy of mine picked up a hitchhiker near South Padre who turned out to be an amateur car jacker. His friend James was with him, and was freaking out:

  • Get out of the car!
  • No!
  • I’ll cut your throat!
  • If you cut my throat, we wreck
  • Then I’ll cut your friend’s throat!!!
  • WTF ASSHOLE?!?!?
  • That’s what you get for fucking my girlfriend… like I didn’t know.*

My buddy used the distraction and the carjacker’s confusion to reach under the seat for his 357. They pulled over, let the would-be carjacker out, then called the cops from the nearest gas station.

    • James really was boning his girlfriend.