Date: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Time: About 5:15 pm
Wait: About 10 minutes
Hitch: Guy named Jim, maybe in forties
Vehicle: Shiny brand-new and waxed black GMC luxury Suburban
Profession: Limosine/ chauffeur driver
I decided to try hitching out of Colorado Springs on Sunday night, rather than Monday morning as I have been, only because it has typically amounted to me waiting for hours in the cold for a ride and being late for Monday morning classes. Hitching on a Monday morning will be my backup plan in the even that nobody swipes me Sunday night, I think.
I will say that the Sunday evening traffic is typically much more lax than the Monday rush of commute; people smile and wave much more frequent. A couple high school-looking kids drive by in a shitty red car in slow motion—- the guy in the backseat cautiously opens the door and tosses an empty cardboard Little Caesars pizza box out onto the road. I’m not sure what to make of this or what it is supposed to symbolize; but the randomness makes it altogether funny and I find myself laughing uncontrollably by myself.
Only ten minutes of waiting, and a man named Jim picks me up in a shiny new GMC with tinted windows. He takes his bags from the front seat and places them in the trunk of the SUV; I do the same with the small amount of luggage I have.
Jim tells me that he grew up in New England, Massachussetts to be exact, and I can tell somewhat from his dry, yet at the same time friendly demeanor.
“I used to hitchhike all the time in the seventies”, he says. “One particualr time I got picked up by a group of kids that were a bit too over-the-top to drive, evidently on some kind of drugs, so they asked me if I would drive.”
I told them sure, he tells me.
“Do you have a fucking license, man?!”, one of kids had asked him. “You sure you can drive our car for us?”
So it happened that Jim drove their car to Boston for them and they walked into a McDonald’s to get some food, singing the Burger King theme song. Jim was the only one that was sobre.
Jim tells me that he lives in Colorado Springs and owns a limosine/ chauffeur business along with his wife. Mostly he drives business people and corporate executives to and from the airport. There often isn’t much verbal exchange that goes on amongst his customers; mostly because they are busy working (i.e. talking on the cell phone or pounding away at the laptop, or Skyping)
One pick-up job that stands out in his mind was when he was called out to pick up the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps. Phelps holds records for the 100-meter butterfly, 200 meter butterfly, amongst others. Jim’s assignment was to grab Phelps at the airport as he got off his plane.
He pulled up next to his plane, only to find that his coach was actually already there to pick Michael up— so there had been some kind of miscommunication on management’s end. So Jim got there, and apparently Mr. Phelps was angry at him, saying things like “why is this idiot even here”, and being disrespectful to Jim.
“When he got off the plane, he quickly pulled up his hoody and gave me the cold shoulder”, he said. It was a non-verbal “F You.”
Needless to say, in Jim’s experience, his first impression of Phelps was not of a positive nature.
Jim tells me that he is also a part-time professor at Pikes Peak Community College, the college I had almost chose to attend this semester. He just recently bought plane tickets to travel to Uruguay in South America for Spring break, for a weeks’ stay. He tells me that his daughter speaks four languages: French, English, Spanish, and German, and has traveled Europe extensively.
Jim explains the event he is planning to participate in this year in Spain, called the Way of St. James. It is a Catholic pilgrimage that was one of the most popular during medieval times. You can find more information about the event and its history here:
Jim says that he has been training for the last four months for the event. “Today, I walked for three and a half hours”, he tells me proudly.
Jim drops me off at the Shell gas station directly adjacent from Auraria Campus. I thank him for the lift, and give him a copy of my book Ted’s Ramblings.
I thank him and walk off, making my 1/8 mile pilgrimage to the Tivoli study area.