Thursday, May 26, 2005
Tormented and left for alive.....Hitch Hiking

No I made no mistake in the title; I could at times describe my life in just those words.

Torment… have no clue what torment is, because you’ve never been there.

You haven’t slept under a bridge overpass, to escape the rain coming down in torrents, at a time when the rides just would not materialize. You haven’t spent a day in the Tehachapi New Mexico jail, for daring to defy the NO HITCH HIKING signs. Just what was I supposed to do, Walk to Texas? Hitch-hiking is a combination of a millionaire’s vacation, and physical and mental hell. And I speak from experience. I have hitch-hiked tens of thousands of miles in America. My estimate of total miles is 60,000. Alone, with another young man, with a young lady, or in as big of a group as four, I have hitch-hiked, and lived to tell you about it. Hitch-hiking is begging, begging to talk, and not walk. I hung up the hitch-hiker’s thumb over 30 years ago, but I can still will my mind back to the side of the highway in 1966. Yes, anytime I desire I can go back in my mind to those crazy, carefree, reckless, self indulging, humble times.

From time to time, I notice hitch-hikers on the side of the road as I drive my boss’s truck from place to place. One of the negative things about truck driving is that you must pass all of those hitch-hikers up. It’s the law, and it is enforced.

Oh how I wish I could pull the 18 wheeler I drive over, and wait for the hitch-hiker to climb up the passenger side of the truck (and why do we still call it passenger side, when we are forbidden to have passengers?) and slowly pull back into the traffic with another human being in the cab of my boss’s truck. Then it would be my time to listen to someone else’s view of the road.

Are we not all some sort of hitch-hikers? We are hitching a ride through life. The person who has never accepted a ride in this journey called life…….lives a dull and boring life.

We all have our thumbs out to the world……as if to ask….give me a ride to….

“The best place for a human being to be at this moment.”

This was the beautiful unspoken rule of hitch-hiking, when someone stopped to give you a ride, they almost always wanted to show you they cared. To this day, I still think they did care, and were not condescending. They wanted to show me something nice, something enjoyable. I never once begged for anything from the person who stopped for me, the ride was enough. But, many times the driver of the car giving me a lift, would hand me a five or ten dollar bill, not making a big deal of it, and I took it and thanked them. We both benefited from this.

It is when the truck stops and we run to jump up in it, we are at our best. To admit you need something, is the first step to fulfilment.

I ran with my hitch hiking friend Phillip, towards the 57Chevy that pulled over for us, just East of Selma, Alabama in 1966. Do you know what rock burn is….? The Chevy waited until we were about twenty feet away, and then the driver laid the foot to the petal, and sprayed Phillip and me with rocks, laughing that stupid rebel laugh, and cursing us with shouts.

Well, we were long haired male hitch-hikers, on a dark highway in the troubled South, a little east of Selma, Alabama.
The person who gave us a ride to that eastside of Selma, had told some frightful stories about the killings that happened not too long ago. Not that far removed from the time Phillip and myself happened to pass through.

After the initial torment, Phillip and I sighed as if relieved, because we knew we were better off not riding with whoever it was in that 57 Chevy. The taillights of the 57 Chevy slipped from our view, but before we could regain our composure and breath, the car turned around and headed at a high speed back to where we stood on the side of the road. Phillip and myself watched the ugly scene unfolding, and if there had been a ditch we would have found it. As it was, we had to watch the speeding car, with headlights flashing from high to low…horn blaring, bearing down on us,
and that is torment my friend. This was the same community in which, the first violence of the non-violent civil rights marches happened. Two long haired American’s watched a speeding car come toward them, knowing it was not coming back to give us a ride.

Beer bottles thrown from a speeding car: no it was not a fair fight. The bottles missed, but the message was clear, the occupants of the speeding car shouted out "f_ _ _ you hippies", to us as the bottles flew.

Well all of this torment could have been avoided, if only Phillip and John had short hair. We didn’t, they did, and I remember.

This story will continue, if there is any interest in it. Comments make a writer try even harder.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to read it all...hear it all. Glad you are writing again.

Blogger web_loafer said...

Thank you Mary. It is taking almost all of my time lately. I will look forward to your input from time to time.

I hitchiked from Oklahoma City to Boston once, when I was rotating back from 'Nam. It was an interesting experience.

You've put in a lot of miles. I'll bet there are lots more stories to tell, too.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to hear you stories too,Phil..I was just a bit too young to be a hippie...LOL! But I always wished I'd had the freedom of that time...TELL PLEASE!

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