Take a Hike
Hitchhiking is dead. It's hard to say which came first, drivers who no longer pick up hitchhikers or people who no longer hitchhike. But I bet you couldn't fill a booth at the Rathskeller with college students who have even once thumbed a ride.Oh, and I'm on the show Friday.
It is what it is, but it's too bad. A whole generation and, it seems, generations to come will miss out on one of the defining legs of the American journey.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, hitching for me was an aerobics course in expectations. It began with an act of sheer positive thinking, a belief cast in blind faith that complete strangers, traveling in their own arc, would enter my life and take me further on.
There were therapeutic benefits to hitchhiking. Mental-health strategies that people actually pay professionals to learn. Hitching required patience. It demanded you slow down your pace, accept that you're not in control of the universe and be okay with that. It asked you to hope for the best and accept disappointment.
While the limit of my patience was tested waiting for rides, I can't say I was ever disappointed by my encounters with the people who picked me up. Frightened by them, yup. Intimidated, bored, maybe. Offended, amused, encouraged, and inspired, too.