Why Did I Pick Up that Hitchhiker?

by on August 21st, 2014
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Three days ago, I was on my way to a local lake to meet up with a buddy of mine to enjoy some fishing. While merging onto the entrance ramp to the interstate, I spotted a man with his thumb up in the air trying to catch a ride. At first glance, I noticed he was wearing very heavy clothing, as well as a cold-weather jacket. I had to know something wasn’t right with him at that moment, for it was in excess of 80 degrees outside! Further inspection revealed that the man was approximately in his mid-40’s, needed a shower and clean clothes badly, and was somewhat distraught.

Knowing the dangers of allowing a rugged-looking stranger into an enclosed area of such close proximity to me, like in a car, I tried to play it off like I didn’t notice him standing there. As I passed by, and glanced at my side view mirror, I noticed that his thumb-up, standing straight up posture became that of a begging man, slightly crouched with his hands put together in a pleading position. My overly caring nature took over, and I pulled off to the side of the road and stopped to allow him into the vehicle.

After a proper introduction, Jake began to tell me how he was headed to a town 50 miles north of our current location to visit his mother in the hospital. I sympathized with him, but told him that 10 miles, which was the distance to my exit, was as far as I could take him as I had engagements currently taking place. He understood, and our chit chat seemed to be going well.

Another minute or two into the journey, the conversation went downhill fast. He then told me that he was fleeing to see his mother because his girlfriend was trying to kill him! He described that horrible situation to me until I drove up behind a blue truck. The pace of traffic had slowed in my current lane, so I switched lanes to pass some traffic. When I did, as I was passing the blue truck, Jake informed me that the driver of the truck had refused to offer him a ride when he was standing on the entrance ramp. In his revenge, Jake proceeded to extend his middle finger out of the window at the driver, followed my his whole arm and part of his head as I continued to pass the truck! He sure let that guy have it! I chose not to say anything at this point, but I certainly was uncomfortable with these events.

While I continued to drive in the passing lane, Jake said, “Watch this.” We were passing another vehicle that grabbed his attention. He treated the driver of this passenger vehicle to the same taste of medicine that he dished out to the driver of the blue truck: Middle finger! When he brought his head back in the car this time, he exclaimed,”Wait until we catch up to the church bus!” My jaw almost dropped! No way could I let him flip off a bus full of decent, Christian people just protecting themselves from the possibility of harm should they have stopped to pick up a stranger. I didn’t like the idea that he flipped anybody off! Yet I wasn’t prepared to have to handle a potentially hostile change in atmosphere, so I continued driving and stayed quiet on the subject.

Thank goodness! My exit had arrived, and there were no worries of Jake flipping anybody else off, including the church bus. I wished him the best of luck, and I dropped him off on the exit ramp. He complied perfectly fine with my limits, and thanked me for being a good person.

I continued on my way into town, second guessing my decision to pick up a hitchhiker and involving myself in a potentially dangerous situation. Apparently, though, Jake truly needed someone’s help. He’d just had a bad day up until that point, and took it out on people who were in the right to exercise their option to keep themselves safe, resulting in his hard luck situation becoming even harder.

What happened to the days when people could trust one another? Did they ever exist? Was there not a time when one could shake another’s hand and it meant something? Or when a person’s word could be taken seriously, without doubt that his/her word would come through? If people could be trusted, actions like mine would not be questioned. Then again, Jake would’ve have been picked up before I got there if that was the case.


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