Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hitchhiking: From The Driver's Side

I found the above photograph online and I decided to use it in this post. I run the risk
of a possible copyright infringement not only because I grabbed it but also because
I added some of my own edits to it. But the photo fits so perfectly with the subject that
I am going to write about that I can't resist using it.

One of my readers sent a comment to me yesterday: "Since discovering your blog I have been rethinking my practice of driving past hitch hikers. You have great advice for fellow hitchers in being as safe as possible when accepting rides. How about some advice for us drivers? How can we make a decision on offering rides to strangers? Where I live I don't see many hitch hikers, but when I do see them I am torn with conflicting feelings. Is it safe? There's very little traffic here........many miles between towns. What should we drivers look for when encountering someone in need of a ride? Be safe. I pray for your safety and for all your needs to be met."

                             PHOTO/EDITS BY RUTH RADER/THE PHOTO WAS 
                             TAKEN DAYS AFTER I FELL AND BROKE MY NOSE

Take another look at that first photograph...and see the red flags for what they are.

First of all, it appears that the hitcher has no baggage with him, not even a backpack.
No serious hitchhiker will ever travel a significant distance without some type of
luggage with him. Second, the guy has (from the driver's point of view) one hand
behind his back. Never even slow down for a guy in that position!

I am not an "average" hitchhiker because I was raised by a cop, I started hitchhiking
in my late thirties and because I am female. Those three variables have had a very
definite affect on the type of person that I am. And I have honestly never met another
hitchhiker, out on the open road, that is really like me.

So if the situation was reversed, I probably wouldn't pick up any hitcher at all today.
This is because I just flat-out don't trust any of them, these days.

I have decent morals and ethics and integrity. I also have a strong and solidly-built
belief in God. Many hitchhikers (at least in this Country and they are the ones that
I am writing about here) don't. They dabble in meth, crack cocaine and heroin while
sporting tattoos of satanic pentagrams. They lie and steal and have significant arrest records,

Whenever I see another hitchhiker on the road, I always give him or her a very wide berth.
Experience has taught me not to interact with them.

So, in reference to your questions...always remember that when you stop and offer a hitchhiker
a are taking a chance that even I might not take.

Back in 1993, when I first went out on the road, the caliber of individuals soliciting rides on
the road, was different. It might appear that I am painting past hitchhikers with a broad brush
but I'm not. Roadies, for the most part, were different then. They were mostly a mellow,
standard hippie lot who held no great amount of malice against anyone.That is not so, anymore.

 I hitchhiked to West Virginia and back to Oregon this year. And I met some roadies along the
way and grew disgusted by their behavior very quickly.

So driver be aware!

I feel responsible enough for your well-being TO WARN YOU before you go out on a desolate stretch
of highway and pick up a stranger with a bad agenda.

My words might surprise you but I believe that I am doing the right thing. And if you want to do the
right thing, too...then here are some useful suggestions:

1.) When you see a hitchhiker (male, female or in a group) contact the police. This is a wise
      course of action to take. An officer or two will check the hitcher for weapons, drugs and
      outstanding warrants.

2.) If the hitcher has valid medical needs, officers can and will arrange transportation to the
     nearest medical center.

3.) The officers will be able to verify where the person is from and where he or she is going.
Drive past the hitchhiker to a safe place farther up the road and contact law enforcement.
Ask the cops to contact you after they have made their initial contact with the hitcher. If the cops
say that the person is a halfway decent individual, then you can always turn around and go
back. But only meet with the hitchhiker while the cops are still there.

That is the time to offer bottled water, food or money to that traveler. That is also the point
in time to offer the hitchhiker temporary lodging in a motel. Or perhaps the person will
just need to do a load of laundry and take a shower.

You and the hitchhiker and the cops can make those arrangements, safely, together.

If the hitchhiker just needs a ride...there may be options that the traveler can use with your
financial help.

If you can't offer anything but prayer...then discuss your concern for that person...with God.
I am living proof that God hears and answers prayers. That is the truth.

I don't know if you will appreciate or understand this post. But I am sending it to you
after being a hitchhiker for over 22 years.



Anonymous said...

Thank you. Very enlightening. If you are ever traveling through the U.P., I'll help you out! We have some lakeshores that are just as beautiful as the coastal areas of Oregon. I don't advise a winter visit, however, the summers are sublime. Your insights on hitchhiking are very sensible. Stay safe.

Ruth Rader said...

I am happy in Oregon...we have an ocean.