A Nation of Hitchhikers
Image by Wikimedia
As the American Automotive Fabric takes a little "T-Out" from its regularly scheduled programming, we may want to prepare our last bidey-byes to the notion that jumping into a personally-owned powered metal box - gas, electric, biodiesel, whatever - every time we need a quart of milk is going to reliably continue. With our sweet dreams and driving machines in pieces on the ground, a backup system is clearly required. One is hitchhiking, which relies on the kindness of strangers and a certain implicit level of decency in the shared social contract between rider and driver. Hitchhiking is commonplace in many countries throughout the world and is on the increase; a recent Digihitch poll showed that 2/3rds of respondents are going to try hitchhiking for the first time this year. Is the U.S. citizenry ready to support hitching, or must we look to the next technological thingy to solve our transportation problem? Here's what you need to know about holding up your end of the bargain.
You can get most of what you need to uphold your end of the bargain from the Digihitch forums; start with this how to article and work your way around the site. Here are the major items:
1. Be Serious - Riders want to be standing with thumb out, not sitting on a guardrail. Drivers, don't make riders run a mile to get into the car because you weren't ready to stop.
2. Look Good - Both parties have to be clean, smell nice, presentable, and non-threatening. No grubbiness; dress like the locals.
3. Don't Lie - Don't tell the driver you're going to point A then try to negotiate going to twice-as-far point B when in the car. Long hair can result in long waits - don't stick it under your cap just to get picked up.
4. Not at Night - Darkness guarantees long wait times and increased fear for both the rider and the driver. It just doesn't work; you are better off sleeping (rider), or not stopping (driver).
5. Be Smart - Take your time and don't be afraid to turn rides or passengers down, particularly around the big cities and from folks who give you a big intuitive "NO WAY" after a few minutes of conversation.