Tuesday, November 13, 2007


As I think of picking up one's kids from college, I'm spacing back to my own college days back in the last century. Admitting here that most acts and thoughts, even ones involving giving of one's self or one's possessions, are self-referential, I've been reminiscing of days of yore when I had plenty of occasions to stick out the thumb and pray for the mobile samaritan. Trips from college back home to the land of good (and free) eats were taken many different ways. Train, bus, hitchhiking, bulletin board group drives, or pickup by my father. Planes were out of the question as airfares were more expensive than the other alternatives and I tended to carry back crates of stuff back and forth. An embarrassing amount of stuff. I enjoyed most of my trips there and back, but the most memorable ones, the good, the bad, and the truly ugly, were ones when sticking the thumb up landed me in vehicles filled with characters. I try to tell my kids these stories but I usually get a quizzical look.
"Tata?", they ask," Don't you always tell us to never hitchhike and to never pick up a hitchhiker?"
"Yes....", I reply in shame and gloom.
As I drive to the holiday rendezvous with the kids, now there and soon back, I can't help but notice that a lot of other parents have been force-feeding this NO! to hitchhiking warning to their kids. You just don't see 15-25 year olds hitching any more. I understand, really; I mean I have no regrets in hammering this point in to my kids. But it's a change in transportation behaviour that's regrettable. I still remember certain rides and drivers with a smile and a sigh. Just some solo driver looking for a traveling companion to talk to while racing through the lonely miles ahead.

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Yeah, I'm with you. It's both sad that age has passed and imperative we admit it has, and that hitchhiking today is less likely to get you home than hacked into small bits. College is when I formed similar memories of wacky travels in which you exchanged a certain amount of autonomy for economy and stories for later.

It makes me happy that Slovenia is still hitch-friendly, and that every Friday/Sunday afternoon the on-ramps are littered with 18-year-olds holding up little cardboard signs lettered "NG" or "LJ". Heartwarming to think how unlikely they are to be dismembered by a quiet loner.
So, Mr. Sgazzetti, in remembrance of things past, do you pick up any of these bright-eyed bushy-tailed card-carriers?
If so, what is the hitchhiking youth of today talking about? Is it friendly talk or talk suggesting a righteousness of ride?
It's rare that I don't have a car full of screaming monkeys, and thus no room to spare, but I am of the pick-up-the-hitcher school. They sometimes tell me interesting things about archaeology or bureaucracy, and I never fail to learn some new vocabulary.
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