Picking up hitchhikers creates new tales | Tolman's Tales

To my wife’s chagrin, once in a while I pick up hitchhikers. Not those who are clearly crazy or have a weapon visible; usually appropriately attired folks in pouring down rain.

I probably started doing this because of my pal Pete, who hitchhiked from New Jersey to Cincinnati during college. Pete is worldly, smart, a wonderful guy to spend time with. Maybe a good psychiatrist would say I assume all hitchhikers are like Pete. Unfortunately, they aren’t.

A couple of years ago in pouring rain I picked up a high-school-aged boy and girl thumbing a ride into Poulsbo. As was my wont at the time, I had country-western music on the radio.

In my car, my new passengers were dry and initially seemed to appreciate the lift. After about 45 seconds of Tim McGraw they started twitching. By the end of the second song the guy asked, “Do we have to listen to that music?”

“Nope,” I said, “if you’d prefer you can listen to the rain. Outside.”

Given that option, country-western was, apparently, a preferable sound.

Then there was the young man I picked up — yes, in pouring down rain — on my way home from morning court. He asked if I’d take him to a local tavern (Note to self: This is not a good sign for a hitchhiker or anyone else at 9:30 a.m.).

It was on my way more or less, so I said, “Sure.”

He got into my car soaking wet and almost immediately said, “I don’t think it’s fair that the transit bus doesn’t have to haul you just because you are so contagious. Do you?”

So contagious?! Yikes. (Second note to self: Don’t pick up people with lesions, uncontrollable twitching or sweating, or who appear to be contagious. Even in the pouring rain.)

The most recent gentleman I picked up was walking in my neighborhood in sheets of rain. He worked at a local business and was delighted when I dropped him off at his work’s front door.

A few days later, in the rain, I picked him up again. On the way to his work he said, “You wear a tie to work. A doctor?”

“No,” I responded, “a lawyer.”

The mood immediately changed. He became silent. I could almost hear the wheels turning in his head.

“Ahhh. Could you drop me off at the mini-mart instead of the front door this time?” he asked. And I did.

Apparently it was better to walk 200 yards in the rain than have your workmates think you know — and, egads, perhaps are friends with — a lawyer.

A notable hitchhiker was Tony Hawks who, in “Round Ireland With a Fridge,” circumnavigated Ireland hitchhiking with a refrigerator to win a bet. His funny journey spawned one of my favorite sayings: “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.” From his adventure he notes some of the life lessons he learned on the road that apply to our day-to-day lives:

You will often depend on others.

You have no control over certain aspects of your life. You can’t control, for example, who stops for you and not;

Most people have a good story to tell when you are chatting in a car;

Persistence pays off. Sooner or later someone will stop and give you a lift.

I’d add one more to his list from my experience: Some people would rather walk in pouring rain than be seen with a lawyer.

— Jeff Tolman is a lawyer in Poulsbo and a periodic columnist for the North Kitsap Herald.

Copyright Jeff Tolman 2014. All rights reserved.


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