Wednesday, July 30, 2014

philanthropic hitchhiker scenario

Back when I was 19 years old, I used to hitchhike for a few weeks.  Mostly due to the fact that i was carless.  Not careless, just carless.

I had an excellent strategy too.  I didn't just casually stick my thumb in the air.  I would literally clasp my hands in prayer and act exceedingly desperate.  I'd even move off the sidewalk and mouth the words, "I need a ride" or "please help me."  Worked every time.  If you really want to get somewhere, try swallowing your dignity.  Works wonders.

My best advice is to have a sign which tells your destination.  And be specific.  Not just Zanesville... but "Olive Garden in Zanesville, Ohio."  This seems far less threatening.  Ohh - that dude probably just wants the endless soup and salad for $5.99.  Their Italian dressing is a bit heavy, but right on... I can dig it.  I should pick him up.  When he gets in my car, he's family (despite the bad breath).

I always think it's peculiar when you pass a hitchhiker, particularly at an on ramp.  You glance in your mirror and the person has physically turned their head, giving you that glaring stare of pissed off admonishment.  It's like, "Hey asshole, you had a ton of room.  You don't know me!  Judgmental jerk probably thinks I'm a murderer or something?"

I'll willingly concede --- I generally do not pick up hitchhikers these days.  The last time I can  remember was probably about 6 years ago.  I saw this woman crying at the Elm Grove I-70 ramp.  I pull over and she starts hyperventilating, crying up a storm about how she needs to get to Canton, Ohio.  I finally get her to calm down and explain the best option would be for me to zip her up to the Dallas Pike truck stop.  Truckers are always the best interstate option.  I also advised her that she was trying to hitch a ride going eastward, when the objective was to head in a northwesterly direction.  She didn't seem particularly interested in my thoughts on destination strategy.  

She was a bit haggard, but not really that offensive.  Sure enough, when I pulled into the lot she asked for some money for food.   I gave her a $20.  I normally don't do handouts, but I had some extra cash on me and she just seemed to "need an emotional lift."  She blathered about 4 "god bless yous" and likely walked off to buy some Marlboro reds.

Anyway, here's my idea.  These days, everything on the news is about random murders, stabbings, rapes, child abductions, the knock-out game, etc.  The media (especially Fox) would have you believe that everyone you see on the street wants to rob you blind and then stab you with an HIV infected needle... just for kicks.  

Wouldn't it be a fascinating sociological experiment if an exceedingly wealthy individual decided to hitchhike from the East coast to the West coast?  But here's the twist.  Start with a $1.00 tip for each driver that picks you up.  The next driver --- you double the amount.  $2.00, $4.00, $8.00, $16.00 and so on.  Maybe set the maximum limit at 100K or something.  Or you could just give everyone a flat grand.  My hunch is that word would quickly spread.  The concept has greater viral exposure potential than a chlamydia outbreak at the local strip club.

Maybe you could document the experience on twitter.  As the social media explosion begins to cement itself, routine drivers who never dreamed of picking up hitchhikers would give their automatic dismissal a second thought.  Hey, that might be "traveling benefactor dude or "hitchy chick sugarmomma."  Americans all over the country would be forced to reconsider their "human expectations" and "routine social judgements."  Of course, you're just appealing to ol' fashioned greed.  But so fuckin' what!

You always see these "mystery Santa weirdos" and "anonymous big restaurant tippers."  Instead of going the boring, traditional route, how about altering the "way of things?"  Changing perceptions and de-terrifying the population at-large.   You could permanently alter the way people think... their entire thought process.

Downside --- you pick up someone who rambles incessantly about the inevitability of artificially generated stampedes.  Or even worse, starts singing that crappy 4 Non Blondes song.  "And I said Heeyyyyyy, aaaaaa, aaaaa, Heyyyyy, aaaa aaaa, What's going on?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this idea and the last paragraph made me laugh out loud.