Friday, February 1, 2013

Date: Friday, February 1, 2013. From Denver to Colorado Springs
Time: Starting at 10:00 a.m.
Wait time: About 2 1/2 hours
Hitcher: Man, mid twenties
Profession: boot company, traveling associate
Vehicle: silver car

I take the light rail to Lincoln stop and walk the mile or so that it takes to get onto the highway merge. It’s a sunny day, chilly, but with just a slight breeze out of the west. Lots of large SUVs pass me by with only one person (usually dressed in a business suit) in the drivers’ seat. A young kid presumably too young to be able to afford a BMW by himself (guessing his parents bought it for him) puts the pedal to the metal, as they say, while zipping by, as if he’s trying to give me some kind of message. The only message I can think of is that he is young, immature, and presumably spoiled.

I’d say about 200 cars or more passed me in the two and a half hours I waited at the merge. This is the longest wait I’ve had yet, and I think it’s important to stop and think about the possible reasons of why I was not grabbed as quickly as past hitchhikes. Perhaps I was there at the wrong time. Starting at eight in the morning or sooner may have been better, since many people are making the work commute from Denver to Colorado Springs. By ten o’clock, perhaps they are already in the office or busy working. Then again, as it often proves, many Americans are just too scared to pick up hitchhikers, living their lives in fear based off of some old man blabbing about on Fox News with some information that somebody else retorted to him, which he has in turn retorted to you.

A young girl on a cell phone passes me by and gives me a disturbing look. The only way I can think to describe this look, one that I have never seen on someone’s face before while passing me by, is complete horror. She looked at me as if I was holding a sawed off shotgun and pointing it directly at her face. As people and faces pass on by, it forces me to reflect on the state of our world as I stand outside in the cold, dry air and waiting for a good samaritan. It forces me to rely on other people, making myself slightly vulnerable and occasionally attempted to (and often successfully) mutter four letter words. After about an hour or more of wait time, I am occassionally shouting four letter words.

Two and a half hours later, a silver car pulls up in front of me. A warm relief sweeps over me as my problem of finding a ride is over! Justin is a guy about my age, and he tells me that he makes his living traveling all over the United States and promoting boots for a company that he works for. His job is basically to go to outdoor adventure suppliers, such as REI, Gander Mountain, and the like and explain how their products works and encourage sales.

I’m not a salesman, though, he is sure to clarify.

Justin seems to enjoy his job and the travel experience that goes along with it. I can see the light in a job such as that. How many other jobs can you pick up a hitchhiker while at work?

Justin grew up in Portland, and has traveled to Israel in the past. Both of his parents, who are now divorced, worked for Intel Communications in Portland, which was great work during the tech boom. Much of the tech boom originated on the NOrthwest coast and the industry continues to be dominant there today.

It was a great way to grow up, he told me. Traveled a lot. While in Israel, he found both the Israelites and the Palestinians to be great company, and they often invited him into their house for food and hospitality during his travels. He tells me that it’s very common for people to hitchhike in Portland, and many people do not have a car and hitchhike if they have to go a good distance.

He says that his dad had a girlfriend that lived in Estonia once and when he went to visit it was one of the most amazing countries he had ever been to.

Justin is laid back, tastefully cool with his large wood framed glasses and gravely beard. He is insightfuly and refreshingly open-minded, and the back of his car is full of boots for his company.

I tell him that he can drop me off anywhere in Colorado Springs.

Oh no, he insists. I can drop you off wherever. He laughs. This is a rental car anyways, he tells me. I don’t have to pay for gas or anything like that.

He drops me off right at my brother’s place. The two and a half hour was worth it, in my mind.

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