This is standing. In the cold. With your thumb up. Praying that somebody is kind enough to stop.
This is hating every mother fucker that doesn’t, because they think you’re a rapist. A murderer. A crack addict. Or just another human being.
This is three hours spent in the rain. Watching people drive along in empty mini-busses. Guzzling up fuel. This is expensive cars. Pick-up trucks. Eighteen wheelers. Motorcycles. Dune buggies. Tour busses. Not stopping. Ever.
This is knowing that there’s no point in putting your thumb up for an RV because only two types of people drive them: old retirees and families – neither of which want you. This is putting your thumb up for an RV anyway, in the small hope that they will stop. They don’t.
This is the police pulling up. This is looking like trouble. This is them giving you a bottle of water because it’s a hot day. This is a “good luck, kid”. A pat on the back. A smile.
This is saying “fuck you” every time a car passes for 15 minutes just to alleviate the boredom. This is dancing as you thumb just to get somebody’s attention. This is the pity you feel for yourself when a car full of hot teenage girls drive by and wave at you.
This is you with hurt feet. Starting to worry about where you’ll sleep tonight because you’ve hiked five miles out of town and the sun is leaving the sky so quick it’ll be dark soon.
This is you in pain. Watching a hundred cars speed by. Getting cold. But not giving a fuck because you’ve been doing this so long that you know eventually somebody will stop. Eventually you’ll get lucky. Eventually you’ll see that people aren’t the bastards you’re convinced they are.
This is feeling so happy and so grateful when somebody pulls over. Even though there’s barely room in their car and you have to spend the whole journey with a 100 pound dog on your lap.
This is teenagers not stopping because their parents told them not to. This is the other teenagers stopping exactly because their parents told them not to. This is feeling scared when a weird looking man pulls up to give you a ride. This is taking the ride anyway because you’re desperate. This is finding out the guy isn’t weird at all.
This is a guy hoping his car doesn’t reek. He lost his sense of smell after muggers beat his head in. This is the same guy asking you what smell you’d think you’d miss the most. This is him saying the smell of sex.
This is being told stories. Rehearsed for dinner parties, work presentations, bar mitzvahs, weddings, funerals. Repeated just for you.
This is fellow hitchhikers. This is a guy who spent the first 12 years of his life in a tee-pee. This is a girl who just wants to get home.
This is a free ride. Free food. Free beer. Free hugs. Free places to sleep. Free emotion. Free freedom.
This is a good person stopping even when there’s no thumb. A lift uphill. A lift to the peak. A lift to a view.This is twenty minutes spent with a bad person that needs to get something off their chest. They’re cheating with their wife. They’re twenty grand in the red. They couldn’t say they loved him.
This is anonymity.
This is obese census takers. Old hippies. Cute college girls. Depressed lonely guys. This is not knowing their name.
This is a short ride outside of town. This is exactly to your destination. This is a person stopping to ask for directions.
This is listening to The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. Jay-Z. Beethoven. The sound of air whistling through a rusted up door.
This is having to shout to speak. This is not wanting to speak at all.
This is picking wild berries from the bushes and eating them for lunch. This is reading Hemingway at the side of the road. This is dipping your feet in a stream.
This is you walking through another shitty town. Passing McDonalds. Burger King. Wal-Mart. Taco Bell. Jack In The Box. Wendy’s. Baskin Robbins. Safeway. Fred Meyers. On and on for miles. For so long you get blisters on your feet.
This is getting a ride to a replica of that shitty town. Another McDonalds. Another shitty Burger King. Another place you’re trying to escape from.
This is wanting to be home. In a bed. With a duvet. Warmth. Love. Food. Friendship. Clean clothes.
This is not romantic. This is not Kerouac. This is not fun.
This is hitchhiking.