Date: Friday, July 18, 2013 (Denver to Colorado Springs)
Time: About 1:00
Wait: Approximately 1 hour
This hitchhiking experience turned out to be a particularly interesting one, as it was my first experiment with hitchhiking with another woman. The questions we had going into this were such as ” will we get picked up faster than a guy hitching by himself with the female presence?” and “how long will it take us to get picked up?”
Today, I’m hitchhiking with my new friend Mandy, a traveler from Berlin, Germany. She has informed me that while hitchhiking in Belgium by herself she was once picked up by two other guys after waiting for less than a minute and was even invited to breakfast. Mandy and I make a friendly bet. She says that we’ll get picked up in 18 minutes or less, and I bet that we will get picked up in 18 minutes or later. While waiting off Lincoln exit, we joke that I should hide behind a bush and pop out once the driver pulls over. For whatever reason, women always get picked up faster. Biases and double standards between the sexes can go both ways.
I hold out the orange sign, stick out my thumb. Mandy stands out front and stretches out her thumb and stays in front where people can see her. I swear that some people pass on by and give it a double look; I can’t help but imagine that they might have thought to pull over should I not have been in the equation.
Blondes driving spaceship SUVs and zombie-tranced into the glowing glare of their cell phones zip on by with barely even noticing us on the shoulder. We count almost ten blondes driving SUVs and yapping on cell phones– this must be some kind of epidemic in the Lone Tree area.
Sad to say, I won the bet and I wish that Mandy would have won. Forty minutes later, the only car that pulls over is a police cruiser. I really don’t like hitching in this area because this is a common occurence but we had no other options.
The cop turns out to be not that bad– and after some smooth talking on my part and a warm smile by Mandy, we convince him to drive us south out of his jurisdiction. Riding in the back of the cop car without handcuffs, the windows shut in with prison bars, it feels like a prison on wheels. Mandy late tells me that the cop cars are not designed like this in Germany– not cold, hard plastic seat but actual cushions and no bars on the windows in the back. The idea is to not be treated like a criminal until it is proven that you are one– imagine that.
It’s at the next exit that we wait less than five minutes and an old, beat up box truck with a spider-webbed and cracked, chipped windshield pulls over. I jump in the middle, Mandy on the outside.
He introduces himself as Ahmed, and is originally from Morocco. “Just got a job delivery boxes to Walgreens all around Colorado,” he says. “I really enjoy not working for the man– it’s not that I don’t like people, but I just don’t like someone telling me what to do all the time. It’s not healthy.”
Ahmed explains that he is Muslim, and has been fasting for Ramadan since 4am, and plans to continue to do so until sunrise around eight PM that night. He sprays himself frequently with water as he is not allowed to drink to stay cool. I admire his dedication.
“I used to hitchhike in Morocco all the time,” he says. “When I was poor, it was my only way of getting around… Morocco is a lot like California, geographically– mountains, oceans and desert, all in one area.”
He says that he enjoys living and working in the United States, although sometimes it can be stressful, the fast-paced lifestyle in comparison to the culture of Morocco. He says that he notices that people smoke more in fast-paced industrial countries around the world, largely due to the high level of stress that goes along with it.
Ahmed has a high respect for the type of traveler that takes the road less traveled, that sleeps wherever he or she can find shelter, who does so on the whim, and sleeps outside and avoids hotels whenever possible. ” I respect this way of travel, because in our modern, comfortable society we always stay in our shelters, our little comfortable bubbles, and we never get a chance to break free and experience the connection to nature. In a similar way, we are never aware of what happens to the meat that we buy at the markets– we don’t know a thing about the lives of the animals, their feelings, their suffering, their spirits– just like humans. Everything is so disconnected when you do not even attempt to understand it and are living so fast and complacently.”
We spend the next half hour or so once in Colorado Springs helping Ahmed unload boxes for his delivery. Eventually make it into the Springs and end up walking a solid five miles until we reach the downtown area.
I’ve got an exemplary level or respect of this man for his dedication, work ethic, and genuine care for humanity.
In conclusion, this experience has proved nothing about the myth of getting picked up faster hitchhiking with a woman/man combination. Further experimentation and recorded details would be necessary to form a proper conclusion.