My First Time Hitchhiking
I’ve been playing around in Nashville since Thursday and got distracted from telling my epic tale of my first time hitchhiking. A story wraught with monsters, one eyed giants, beauitful voiced women on the shore, and a real stunner who has a knack for turning people into farm animals. Now you may think I’m just recounting the story of Odysseus and in a way you’d be right. However, if you look deep within my story I’m sure you’ll find elements of all that stuff. Eh hem…
Behold me. Wesley, as I prepare for my journey. I carry nothing with me except the will to explore, a desire for adventure and a pack that weighs more than that spherical accesory on Atlas’s shoulderers.
I left St Louis early Thursday morning. Unfortunately I missed my bus which had the unsual time of running until 8:10 AM and not starting again till 4:30 PM. Whoever designed that time table must have won a Nobel Prize in mathmatics and received a gold star for their portrayal of the little dutch boy with his finger in the damn. Obviously someone who knows how to fill in the gaps.
Fortunately one of the guys at the house I’d been staying at offered me a ride to the metro rail which would take me to the outskirts of the city.
Once I got off the train, the reality of what I was doiing began to sink in. There was no turning back. It was time to put up or shut up. I had never hitchhiked before, and even though I had some tips, I had no idea what to expect.
I walked towards the highway to the nearest on ramp where, to my beautiful surprise I got to pass this lovely five start getaway resort that for whatever reason had been unannounced by google maps and the magazine St Louis Traveler Quarterly.
Making my way past, the residents bellowed out their enrapturing siren songs as they sang such favorites to me as “Where You Goin With That Big Fucking Bag White Boy” and “Who Wants To Run A Train On The Skinny One”. Ah, those oldies but goodies. Brings a tear to my eye every time I hear them, and bring multiple tears every time I participate.
When I got to the onramp I saw with dismay that it was right next to the prison. Hmmm… Something about hitchin here seemed counter productive.
With that said, I decided to walk in the 92 degree heat about two miles to a better place, stopping momentarily under a bridge to mark my territory and let all roaming animals know the otter was there.
After a long walk in the hot heat I finally made it to the next major exit. It was here I decided to make my stand. No moves till I catch a ride. The hard part about this was that I didn’t know how long I should wait. How long was normal? Was it even going to work? I had no reference point. I just had to cross my fingers and hope.
I perched myself on a cement slab next to the onramp and waited. Cars kept going by, but I kept my smile up. Then, one car started to sneak behind me and I turned and flashed it my beautiful sign, decorated with artistic mastery.
People have spent their entire lives in the pursuit of creating something of such magnificent beauty. The car slowed and I could tell the guy inside was mentally going over this decision with himself. ”Do I really want to let this guy into my car?” My hopes started to pop, so I gave him my direct gaze hoping once we locked eyes, it would be like a tractor beam of guilt making him feel helpless and having to pick me up.
He rolled down his window.
Me: “You going east?”
Him: “Yeah” translated: what the hell am I doing?
Me: “You got room in there?”
Him: “Yeah.” translated: just press on the gas and go now. Now! NOW!!!
I was delighted! My first successful ride. The guy’s name was Jason.
Very fitting that on a journey that makes people think of axe murderers, my first ride shares his name with a highly zealous camp counselor who likes to wear a hockey mask and impale people.
Jason, to my amazement, took me almost three hours east to a town called Paducah. Being in a car that long with a stranger, you never know what you’re going to get and being in the Bible belt I didn’t want to find an ecstatic driver who made it their life mission to have everyone hear the audio recording of The Bible, read by Jeff Foxworthy.
Turns out Jason was highly intellegent and kept me facinated by his stories and views on politics and the economy. When he finally dropped me off he looked at me and said “here’s my number. If you don’t catch a ride call me. I’ll get you something to eat and you can crash at my place for the night.” What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man quoteth Salt N Peppa.
My next ride was a thin slice of heaven. Enter Tobey and Alisha.
I wasn’t certain if girls would ever pick me up. Silence of the Lambs basically ruined it for male hitchers with “it puts the lotion on the skin or else it gets the hose again” routine. However, these two little saints were incredible. They lived in Paducah, and yet they drove me an hour and a half east out of kindness. Kindness and that they wanted to build up some good karma for their trip to Europe. Favorite line from them:
Me: What did you major in college Alisha?
Alisha: Well they didn’t have rock star so I took criminal justice instead.
When they dropped me off, they offered to buy me ice cream. I was being blanketed in kindness.
My third ride was very short, but it had a wonderful addition.
They gave me a slice of pizza, which everyone knows is the international gesture of awesomeness and is a habit that should be revisited on all hitchers. Just saying.
My last ride came, unexpectedly again, from two lovely ladies. Miriam and Elisheva.
When Eli came out to open her trunk she looked at me suspiciously and said “promise me you won’t kill us with an axe, rape us or maim us.” I looked at her and promptly said “you take all the fun out of hitchhiking.” They were sisters on their way to a double date. I was disappointed they didn’t have a third wheel sister whose slack I could pick up.
One of these girls had been a heroine addict and a call girl, but had cleaned up and was changing her life around. When told this, I sat back, took a deep breath and shed a silent tear that I had missed my window. She had obviously had a lot of sex, but when she got to talking about her new boyfriend she said, “I’m having the best sex of my life and it’s with a guy with erectile dysfunction.” That was a phrase I never expected to hear and should have been added to the lyric lines of Huey Lewis and the New’s hit song, Power of Love.
I got to Nashville from St Louis in about ten hours. It had been a wonderfully fun and successful day. I had put myself out into the unknown and reaped a huge reward. Jumping into the unknown is always the hardest part and now that I’ve made my leap, it’s time to ride the skies all the way down.