A thumb goes up, a car goes by

So, XUP Jr. comes home the other day all excited and says, “I saw someone hitch-hiking today!”

“So?” says I, confused as to why this should excite an otherwise blasé teenager.

“SO?” says she, incredulously. “It was cool! It was so retro!! It was like in one of those movies!!!”[1]

Sometimes the gaping maw of the generation gap is a chasm as large as the Niagara Gorge without the convenient bridge.

“Why when I was your age, hitch-hiking used to be my primary mode of transportation,” I wanted to say, but didn’t, because that would have sent entirely the wrong message.

But I lived in the boonies and my parents would have laughed their asses off if I’d asked for a ride to a friend’s house or to the movies or to go shopping. We got to ride in the family car for church or for medical appointments and once in a blue moon for a “special”[2] family outing.

The school bus took us to school. There was an inter-city bus we could catch to go to town, but it was a good hour’s walk to get to where we could catch that bus. And friends all lived at least an hour’s walk away, too. So, how else to get around?

Everyone got their license as soon as they possibly could, of course.  Those with some knowledge of the combustion engine bought contraptions-that-were-once-cars and somehow kept themselves mobile. The less mechanically-inclined had to rely on borrowing the family car which was a pretty hit or miss proposition back in the day when almost every family only had one car and/or maybe one truck. Then there were those few privileged people who were able to acquire real cars of their very own. Any or all of the aforementioned people were very, very popular.

But most of us hitch-hiked a lot. We’d try to do it in pairs whenever possible and had some basic safety rules.[3] And, while there were a few scary moments and some close calls, nothing really bad ever happened to anyone I knew because of hitch-hiking. Or maybe it did, but I blocked it out.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, don’t hitch-hike. It’s a very stupid thing to do.


[1] Yes, she talks with ever-increasing exclamation marks.
[2] And by “special” I mean an excruciating, forced day of togetherness with 7 of us crammed into one vehicle with a goal of visiting some distant friend of the family’s who invariably had their own passel of squalling brats so that I could babysit, for free, their 5 or 6 kids as well as my own 4 siblings for the afternoon while the grown-ups chatted. Sometimes on the ride home, we’d stop for ice-cream. I’m lactose intolerant.
[3] No vans. No vehicle with more than one person in it. Don’t accept a ride if the driver has his penis in his hand (It happened at least twice). And, of course, don’t accept rides with anyone giving off a serial killer vibe. (Teenagers know this stuff. They’re very worldly.)