Remember in the late 60's/70's when hitchiking was a legitimate form of transportation? It made every trip a little more of an adventure. My buddies and I would do the one guy hitchin', three guys in the bushes routine. If we all got out there together we had a little temptations step that seemed to move things along......or at least raise a smile. In my college town of El Paso, Kelly and I turned it into a sport. We called it "Hitchin' For Chicks". Politically incorrect I know, but it was a different time. We'd actually turn down rides from anyone except, well.....chicks. One night we got to our favorite corner and there were four different groups of guys lined up to start thumbin'. Damn degenerates. Another era comes to an end.
Another pretty cool Texas hitch was Easter break.......EP to LA. The guy I was going with didn't have much hitchin' experience. I kept telling him what a grueling trip this could be....hours.....days crossing the desert. He didn't seem fazed. We got picked up in about five minutes by a guy going to LA. Really made me look bad. We were going to see his girlfriend in Hollywood. I was telling him...ok ...this is where it gets tough....living by our wits and guile. The girlfriend got us into a mansion in Laurel Canyon for a week. Skunked again. One day the three of us were hitchin' in downtown LA. A taxi driver stopped to pick us up. Even after we explained that we had no money he still insisted we get in. He was a Mexican gentleman and seemed like the happiest guy on the planet. He took us to a small restaurant somewhere in LA, where he was apparantly well known, ordered lunch, bottles of wine, cigars. yeah....CIGARS!!!!!!! We kept insisting we had no money. He finally looked at me, gestured around the room and asked me if I ever heard the phrase,"Mi casa, su casa". He didn't leave any money and none seemed to be expected. I've since used that phrase many times He finally took us where we had to go, dropped us off in our drunken stupor and didn't take a dime. Which was good....'cause we didn't have a dime. I like to consider myself pretty streetwise. That cab driver knocked some of the wise out of me. I sure wish I'd gotten his name. Now we were broke. Things were sure to get nasty. We got jobs as gardeners in our mansion for a couple days and flew back to EP first class. So much for a tough lesson.
Back in Jersey the hitchin' continued....to school, to work...for fun. After I had a car for a few years, I tried it again...but it wasn't the same. A bygone era. In this day and age hitch hiking's taken on a grim aura. People sometimes don't come back. I had a couple of dicey calls, but nothing too serious. And I'm sure my college pal has nothing but rosey memories of his experience. At least we got a ticket from a Texas state trooper...but even he was friendly!!! For some reason I can't really remember the rain or the cold.....the long wait between rides........sometimes not getting rides. Thank God for selective memory, and age. It's much more romantic this way.