I give up folks. Sometime in the last decade while I was too occupied with other endeavours to notice, someone changed the definition of the word “hitchhiking”, from catching rides to walking. I would like to explain how that affects real people on the ground, (or highway), but not wanting to put the cart before the horse, so to speak, I must implore you to bear with me as I recount these events in their natural order.
As some of you may know, I had decided to hitchhike halfway across the country to visit my son, stand on the great divide, and hopefully pan for gold. I suppose I should either plan better or perhaps not plan at all since things never go according to plan anyway.
My home is located just a few kilometres from the highway that links nowhere to everywhere. I asked my darling wife to give me a lift to this thoroughfare in the interest of reducing the distance I would have to walk to catch my first ride since she was listlessly seeking something with which to occupy her time.
Once on the highway, my wife took a few photographs of my first steps of what promised to be a fun adventure and then returned home while I descended into the valley before me. A few vehicles went by as I walked down to the twin creeks at the valley bottom and stopped to have a chocolate bar. It seemed odd that no cars were stopping to pick me up, but I gave it little thought as I passed by the remains of an unfortunate Painted turtle who had chosen the wrong time to cross the road. I was contemplating the destructive impact of the internal combustion engine upon nature when a vehicle pulled alongside to offer me my first ride.
I considered the situation dubiously for a moment before deciding to accept. The driver was an exceptionally pretty lady who informed me that she and her children were bound for the city to shop for school supplies. Perhaps it was just my ego, but she seemed to find me attractive. They were all very friendly and comfortable. I put my bags in the back of her vehicle, and we set out. Within moments I realised that this would not be an ordinary ride. Most people glance at the road occasionally while driving but not this lady. The centerline seemed to be entirely non-existent in her world, and oncoming traffic desperately manoeuvred around her in a surreal effort to survive. I remember tensely wondering how the woman could have acquired a drivers licence and concluding that the person testing her must have passed her just in the interest of never having to experience another ride with her in case she attempted to pass a second time.
Our collective survival seemed one of those strange quirks of our universe wherein the impossible is made possible in the most unexplainable fashion. Miles rolled under the tires, and I listened to the sound of my favourite movie, (The Lion King), playing in the back while I tried to avoid looking forward seeing what would inevitably be the death of us all.
Somehow we survived the next two hours without injury though I can only imagine the chaos left in our wake. At one point I foolishly made what I thought was a constructive suggestion to correct the lady’s driving and met with a sharp response as well as a look that would have killed a weaker man. We neared the point where we would part ways, and I asked to be dropped off at the edge of the city at which point I would continue westward. She stopped the vehicle, and I shakily extracted myself from it guiltily wondering if any of them would make it back to their home. I pulled my pack from the back of the car and hoisted it up before saying my final goodbye to my wife and kids.
to be continued…