The Hitchhiker

“I’m trying to get to Waterloo. How far are you going?”, he says, as he opens the door of my car.

“All the way to Toronto”, I reply,  he climbs in happily, and I’ve got another hitchhiker.

I like picking up hitchhikers. I rarely pass one by. They make the miles go faster with their conversation. They give me things to think about, new perspectives, glimpses into lives much different than my own, a sense of respect for another point of view, new stories.

The hitchhiking community, as I’ve experienced it, is almost exclusively men, mostly between the age of thirty and fifty. Virtually all have some issue which has led to the lack of a driver’s license. Their stories remind me of the old maxim “There, but for the grace of God, go I”. They make me feel grateful, humble, and sometimes challenged. Since their world, their lifestyles, their experiences, are so different from mine, our conversations can be very wide ranging, from child custody issues, to their work situations, to the difficulty they have finding adequate places to lives, to their struggles to make sense of life.

Saturday’s ride was no exception. “A” turned out to be a guy I had gone to high school with,  although we didn’t finish together. He’s worked as a labourer all across the country, never doing anything long enough to actually get any professional certifications. Now he’s come back, working at jobs he can find, just getting by. He has a driver’s license but can’t afford a car. His life experience though has made him a bit of a natural philosopher/theologian and, by the time we were 30km into our trip, we were on to the Holy Spirit, the need for Christians to be part of a church, and the prosperity gospel. I’m not sure any of my profs gave me as tough a workout. He never stopped talking for the whole trip. It was wonderful!!!!

I’ll likely never meet “A” again, but, there will be another one, soon, standing beside the road, with a thumb out and I’ll be pulling over and rolling down the window to meet the next adventure.

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