The Day I Picked Up a Hitchhiker

Risk more than others think is safe.
Care more than others think is wise.
Dream more than others think is practical.
Expect more than others think is possible.

—Claude Bissell

There’s a story I love to tell in the presence of The Conductor, because it upsets him so much (in a cute way).

When I was 17, I spent a summer working in northern rural Indiana, at a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

One day, on my way to work on a 2-lane country road, I spotted a male adult hitchhiker. He had a large metal lunch box, like what coal miners used to carry.

I stopped and told him I could take him 10 miles to the next town, where I worked. He was headed to the same town, so climbed in.

When we reached KFC, it turned out my female boss was an old friend of this hitchhiker. They had a brief chat, but immediately my boss pointed a finger at me and said, “Don’t you EVER pick up a hitchhiker AGAIN!”

The man grinned and said while he was grateful for the ride, he agreed with my boss.

When I left KFC that summer for my first year of college, my boss gave me a going away present that included a key chain with pepper spray on it.

I think she knew I would not be playing it safe.

It’s always more fun to take the risk—and more enjoyable to expect the best of people.

Photo credit: Photofarrell

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0 thoughts on “The Day I Picked Up a Hitchhiker

  1. Mariel

    It is beautiful to have such a positive attitude towards strangers, but I agree that it is dangerous. I have known some very good people, but also some very bad people, so I suppose I have learned to be careful. Just yesterday, I was strolling along the University of Pittsburgh campus, and I got a job offer from a pimp. It was just one more event that reinforced my concern. All the same, I do believe good people are out there. You just have to find them.

  2. Darrelyn Saloom

    Well, I am so thankful to the wonderful people who picked me up hitchhiking from Louisiana to California and on up to Oregon to pick beans on farm for a summer. I was 15. And then I hitchhiked home. Never had a problem, but for one State Trooper in Utah (I still remember his name). I met some of the nicest people in my life.

    And like The Conductor said, this is not an "endorsement" in any way. I never even told my children what I’d done until they were grown. Would not want them to do the same. But it was a magical time in my life. Have never felt so unencumbered and free. But I am thankful Ted Bundee never opened the car door for me.

  3. TheConductor

    * The preceding post is in no way intended to be, nor construed as, an endorsement of, or recommendation for, necessarily, the picking up of, offering rides to, or in any other manner providing method of transport for, hitchhikers, wayfarers, vagabonds, wanderers, or hobos. Further, we would never seriously consider these actions now that we’re in our right minds.
    ~The Conductor

  4. Alexis Grant

    I love this post! Whenever I see a hitchhiker on the side of the road, I have to kick myself so I DON’T pick them up. I love to travel backpacker-style, and I’m always catching rides with other travelers, people who happen to be going that way, and, occasionally, I hitchhike. That hitchhiker on the side of the road could be me! In some ways, they represent me, backpacking across Africa. Oh, I really have to kick myself so I don’t pick them up.