Thursday, June 07, 2007


I picked up my first hitchhiker the other day. I did.

I've been on the receiving end of hitchhiking. I was young, fourteen or fifteen, lived in Florida and was so impressively stupid some might find it difficult to comprehend. Imagine hitchhiking to a party that was leave-your-clothes-at-the-door and then actually getting into the backseat of a two-door number with a couple good old boys who passed a half empty bottle of Southern Comfort between themselves. Yep. That is probably in the top ten idiotic things I've done. Scary to think of the other nine, eh? (Note: attending the party wasn't one of them, I might have been dumb but I wasn't getting naked in front of a bunch of strangers, dernit.)

But this was the first time I've ever been on the giving end of hitchhiking.

I was coming home from a busy day of stuff and shopping when I saw her. She was alone, wandering around the middle of a busy road and trying to flag down random cars. She sort of jumped in front of me so I stopped and rolled down my window. She couldn't have been a day younger than eighty, maybe ninety. A tiny little thing.

She said she wanted to go to Jusco, a supermarket, so I told her to hop in and took her there. I offered to stay with her and shop and then take her home. But she said no, she'd be fine. Since I had some seriously warming milk in my floor board, I didn't insist. Although now I wish I had.

Why? Because on the ride to the store she told me the best stories. She said when she was younger she had fled North Korea with her husband. They ran into the Soviet Union. She was butt naked. And he ended up being killed. She told me about how many children she has lost and about the ones left over that don't want to live with her. But that's okay because she never wanted to be a burden on anyone. And true to her nature she apologized at least a dozen times on the drive to the store.

I made sure she got inside and waved to her. She waved back. I wish I had gotten her name at least.