Hitchiker

A Wise Decision or Not? Reflections on being kind.

It is true although I may have overreacted.  I was driving from the college where I was teaching a night class back to my home.  The college is in Tampa and my home is in Winter Haven, Florida.

I take I 4 and it is about twenty five miles.  About five miles into the journey I see a man, about forty hitchhiking on the side of the road.  I normally do not like to pick up hitch hikers but I did.  He asked for a lift to Lake Land about ten miles down the road.

I thought I was doing a good deed.  He asked me a few questions which for some reason I felt uncomfortable answering.  All of a sudden he was an inquisitor and I felt I was under pressure to respond.

I mentioned I was a professor.  Now I am a male so I was not afraid of him in some ways.  But then he said, “Boy am I hungry”

I could see there was a McDonald’s up the road and got off.  I do not know why but I felt unsafe.  Just a feeling.  The hair on the back of my bald head was sticking up.  I pulled up to the McDonald’s and saw there was a line of cars at the pickup window so I parked handed him a ten spot and told him to go in and get us some hamburgers, fries and a couple of cokes.  He was pleased as punch and went inside.

I do not know why. Maybe I was not really hungry at ten at night.  Maybe I did not want a greasy burger.  But I do know I did not want this stranger back in my car questioning me, eating greasy hamburgers, and in the back of my mind asking for some more money.  I assume it was my paranoia and I let it get the better of me.

As soon as he entered the place I peeled off and got back on the road, leaving him with the money, food, and the idea that he won something.

Was I nuts?  What would you have done?

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One thought on “Hitchiker

  1. Great story Barry!
    One I can relate to…

    You gotta trust your gut… that’s why it’s there. I have been known to pick up hitch hikers before and while most of the time I felt I was indeed doing a good deed (I would like to think if I found myself stranded I could catch a ride in this way) there have been more than a couple of times I regret having made that decision.

    For the sake of this comment I will just say that while nothing truly horrible or gruesome happened I have found myself using my “how to negotiate with a psycho” skills.

    I would never recommend the practice of picking up hitch hikers. I would say it certainly takes guts (on both sides of the equation.)

    You did well by offering the guy some money and food. That was also a very skilled maneuver to get back to your own business – although I have had riders offer me money for doing them a favor (which I always refused.)

    You really have to be a bit of a thrill seeker to get involved in hitch hiking and I can pretty much guarantee if you do much of it you will one day wish you hadn’t…

    Tip of the hat to the Noxville, TN DOT Worker that stopped to check on me when I blew out a wheel bearing and gave me a lift to the auto parts shop and back to my ride and made sure I was able to affect repairs.

    As a society we cannot close our eyes to those in need… Support your local law enforcement agencies they aid the stranded everyday. If you see a stranded motorist in a remote location give them a lift by making a phone call. Helpful/Harmless

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