As a rule I never pick up hitch hikers. Well except for that time in the middle of last January when Greg was following me in his car and it was minus 40 degrees and I saw this teenager on the side of the road. I’m pretty sure he was a hitch hiker because he was facing on-coming traffic but his thumb had fallen off from the cold so I wasn’t positively sure. Whether he was a hitch hiker or not, when I stopped beside him he jumped in my car – which officially made him a hitch hiker in my book. And I wasn’t too worried because like I said, Greg was right behind me in his car.
But apart from that time, I really never pick up hitch hikers.
Then last weekend I was driving home with Jonathan and Samantha (my 13 and 12 year olds) when I saw this lady – this OLD lady – hitch hiking. My first reaction was “what the hell is she doing? Is she fricken crazy? Doesn’t she know that weirdos are EVERYWHERE?!”
My second reaction was, “OMG I have to SAVE HER FROM THE WEIRDOS!”
Before I had time to analyze my logic, I had pulled over onto the side of the road.
“Dudes, never do this but we’re picking up a hitch hiker,” I quickly said to Jonathan and Samantha, who were sitting quietly in the backseat. (This is probably a good time for me to mention that those four words – “Jonathan”, “Samantha”, “quietly” and “backseat” – are very rarely found in the same sentence. So I guess I was kind of temporarily out of sync with reality.)
Fantasy: I would pick up the old hitch hiker, drive her home and we would all live happily ever after.
Reality: The effin questions.
“So if we never do this, then why are we doing it?”
Yes there’s just something about teenagers that makes you want to question everything you do. Or shoot yourself in the head. And since I didn’t have a gun at the time (Note to the prevention police squad: I NEVER have a gun at the time) my only option was to question what I was doing.
And when I say “question”, I’m referring to the big one: “Holy shit! What the hell am I doing?!”
So as exhibit “A” got into the car (the old lady hitch hiker), I said to her, “Oh my goodness. I can’t believe you’re hitch hiking! It’s so DANGEROUS!!!” Although I was saying it to our new passenger, I was really saying it to my kids in the backseat.
“Oh no,” says the
stupid hitch hiker. “Not around here.”
I looked at her in that way that adults have of looking at each other. You know the look. The one that means “for the kids sake. FOR THE KIDS SAKE!”
Luckily, she caught on right away. “Oh. I mean. Yes. You’re right. It IS dangerous. Good thing you stopped. I NEVER hitch hike but have this emergency and I need to get home before . . . um . . . my cat . . . has a heart attack.” (Obviously not very quick on her feet.)
So we drove her home, chit chatting all the way about how hitch hiking is NEVER a good idea, and all the while Jonathan and Samantha were sitting quietly in the back seat. (Again. Which really was a great indication that I should have bought a lottery ticket. But I was too absorbed in my current “parental oops” to think about stopping to buy lottery tickets.)
Yes, quiet in the back seat. That is, until we dropped her off. As soon as she closed the car door after saying her thank-yous and good-byes there was an avalanche of questions.
“So if it’s so dangerous, why did we just do that? Why did we just pick up a hitch hiker? Didn’t you tell us that bad people can act very nice and that bad people can be girls too? And old people can be bad . . .”
Again, I wanted to shoot myself in the head.
PS. We all make a parental oops once in a while, right?
PPS. I just mentioned that I was working on this post to Jonathan, and that it’s called “oops” and he said, “oh you’re writing about the hitch hiker.”