Hitchhiking is very rare in the US, generally on the grounds of “I don’t want that smelly homeless dude/probable axe-murderer in my car”, and I find that a real dissapointment. Not because the fears are entirely unfounded – chances are any person requesting or offering rides is on the sketchier side even if their unlikely to be dangerous – but because these common apprehensions form a self-fullfilling prophecy. If the general populace is untrusting and doesn’t condone hitchhiking because they think it’s dangerous, hitchhiking will naturally become more difficult and dangerous to match because a larger
One Saturday December 2021 I set out with a new friend to explore for a day. I’d met him in one physics course, and talking after class we had learned we had a similar disposition and interest (if lack of experience) in travel and outdoor sports. After a tough week of school, I texted him proposing a short expedition without a fixed destination, simply “west”. So Saturday afternoon we went by ferry from Seattle to Bremerton, took a bus to the edge of town, and started walking up some roads towards the state forest. We had a great time telling stories as we walked through the dark until we finally reached a spot that the map said was a corner of the forest. Then we noticed that it was 7pm, the last bus had left about an hour ago, and the last ferry was at 9pm and 11 miles away. We started running and went a mile before my buddy suggested what was on my mind: try hitchhiking. Neither of us had hitchhiked before, but what’s there to it? Just stick your thumb out right? So we jogged along a two-lane highway winding through the forest as lots of cars sped passed, evidently not keen to let in two sweaty young men after dark. After maybe 2 more miles, a young tire salesman about our age named Alex picked us up in his small pickup and dropped us off at the edge of town where he was attending a birthday party. It must’ve been another 3 miles of jogging to the ferry terminal, but we made it with time to spare, giddy with our success and thankful for a stranger’s kindness.