Thumbs Up For Hitchhiking
I remember when I was fourteen or so, some time in the mid eighties, when I started to test the realm beyond my parents’ advice. At that time, we had just moved to a new area in town and I decided to explore a bit with a visiting friend of mine. We walked to the town reservoir/park and then found a path back towards the general direction of my house which ended up putting us in the next town, but near the border. We were not so far away from my house, but it was a long walk. It was then where I decided that we should try hitchhiking for the first time in our lives.
It was a local road near my own town and I thought to myself, “How dangerous could it be?” We stuck out our thumbs without knowing what to expect. It was certainly a “no-no” for kids to do, but the Internet was not around, and “Silence Of The Lambs” was not in the theatres yet, and perhaps I had the premonition about the movie “Fearless,” which would come out even later.
Almost as quickly as we stuck our thumbs out, a car stopped for us on the side of the road. It was an old inexpensive hatchback car, maybe a Ford Pinto, which was the most dangerous part of the ride itself. We got inside the car with two people in the front seats of the car. The male driver had long hair, scruff on his face, and a raspy smoker’s voice. I assumed the other person was his girlfriend.
We talked for a short time, and within a minute or two, we were coming near to my road and I asked to be let off. He pulled the car over to the side of the road, probably wondering why we asked for a ride in the first place, not knowing it was just a pilot test to see if I could do it, which I guess I could.
My friend gets out of the car, and before I get out, the driver swivels in his seat to turn around and faces me. He pulls out a ten dollar bill and says, “Hey, do you need any money man?”
“No, I’m OK. Thanks.” I said.
He still held out the bill and said, “Pass it on man! Pass it on!”
Not knowing what to do with those words, I took the money and got out of the car.
That’s all to say for my first “Hitchhiking Story.” It is a simple story and there was not much to it. However, I might guess that my driver had a premonition for “Pay It Forward,” a movie I had never seen, but had heard about from several people. He was well ahead of his time, and perhaps the person who inspired the film. Who knows who else he had picked up, maybe a writer, film producer, or a director?
Besides Wavy Gravy, my hometown is also the home of quite a few famous people. One of those famous people is a Hollywood movie writer and director named Charlie Kaufman. Not only that, but his parents once lived in the very same house that is right on the corner of the road where we were dropped off! Now isn’t that a strange coincidence? It is too bad that Charlie was already living out West by then, and his parents didn’t move into to that house until a couple of years after my story took place, and all aspects of the movie are credited to someone else.. but everything might be connected some way or another, through vibes and unconscious knowledge, right? How is my lawsuit pitch so far?
When I look back at that moment, I remember my driver was definitely “high” from marijuana, but I was unable to recognize it at the time. He spoke in sort of a sustained stoner’s broken giggle while he was saying and extending the chopped up word, “on” to say,
“Pass it o-o-o-on man! Pass it o-o-o-on!”
It was my first experience with hitchhiking, and certainly a good one. I guess it could have turned out otherwise, but I cannot remember ever being afraid to stick out my thumb thereafter. To this very day, I can still hear my stoned driver’s voice saying those words in Digital Dolby THX.
Unfortunately, until recently, I had forgotten about this story and never had a chance to “pass it on”…or at least in the context in which I was given the money. I had of course given away money and picked up many hitchhikers in my time. However, I never remembered the ten dollars and to “pass it on” while I was picking up other hitchhikers. I actually remember one time where I picked up someone who may have actually needed ten or more dollars or more, but I just did not think of it at the time. It did not occur to me that most hitchhikers could probably actually use some money, and that is why they are hitchhiking. So if you get a chance, and the conditions are right, I hope you can skip the marijuana bit, keeping the stoner’s broken giggle, and pay my debt for me (adjusted for inflation), saying, “Pass it o-o-o-on man! Pass it o-o-o-on!”
If you do something like that (and survive :), please let me know about it here. Perhaps you will have your own story to tell too.
Link to Notable People of West Hartford
Picture taken in Pa-auk, Myanmar.
Original thumb 30 years later.
Edited effects with Android, Pixlr.