A Dab of Peril

Would you give this woman a ride?

Could this be you?

Ninety-nine percent of those surveyed would say no way.

Hitchhiking’s become something of lost art. And good riddance, right?

Hitchhiking is nothing but a quaint, addlepated footnote of 1960s history that is missed by most of us about as much as getting bled by leeches to cure our insomnia.

Yeah, I know.

Hitchhiking= Danger!  Serial killers!  Shallow graves!

But just for a moment consider this.  Couldn’t most of us use an infusion of what hitchhiking implies: a dab of trust between total strangers?

We’re all so damned afraid.

Of each other.

Of dangers that are possible rather than probable.

But what if we’re missing a chance to connect, to help someone in need at little cost to ourselves?

Serial killers are a vastly exaggerated danger.  Like a forty-foot long great white shark, they’re dangerous all right, but so rare as to be nonexistent for most of us.  Yet a high-fat-red-meat-no-vegetables-no-exercise existence is a certain danger that millions of people court every day.

My father successfully instilled in me a terror of panel vans.  Even today when I’m out walking and one slows down near me I think rape and death followed by a shallow grave.  Decades after his stern warnings I have yet to be harmed in any way by someone in a panel van, yet the fear remains.

I’m not advocating abandoning common sense, just a loosening of the stranglehold of fear.  It impoverishes our lives, especially the lives of  women.  And at the very least, we should be aware of how few of our fears ever become reality.

So what do you think?  Would you ever give a hitchhiker a ride?  Ever had a good experience hitchhiking yourself?  Let me know.  I’d like to hear from you.

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7 Responses to A Dab of Peril

  1. I did a lot of hitching back in the ’60s. Picked up a good number of folk. I did have a few bad experiences when hitching late at night, but never from anyone I picked up. These are different times now, the age of innocence of gone.

    • Maybe, maybe not, Prudence. Sometimes I think it’s more that with twitter and the internet we hear instantly and at great length about the evil people do. In that way, I guess our innocence is totally gone!

  2. Shannon Esposito says:

    My parents installed an unhealthy dose of fear in me about everything! I can’t see a kid walking to the bus stop or a teenager at the mall, without wanting to protect them from their kidnapper. My ability to imagine the worst is something I struggle with daily…and probably why I write about murder. 🙂

    Oh, and nope…wouldn’t pick up a hitchhiker.

  3. Ain’t that the truth Faith!

    We are so afraid to connect to one another. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been hurt by others or that we don’t talk to one another anymore. We’re text messaging, emailing, etc. and not in personal contact.

    As far as thumbing, not me. That was never my mode of transportation.

    Thanks Faith for your post.

  4. Diane Capri says:

    Fear. Big subject, right? I read an interview with Stephen King who said he wrote horror because his mother told him if he said aloud the things he was afraid of, then they’d never happen. Hmmmmmm.

  5. mplo says:

    Sure, it’s possible to meet people in public places, such as pubs, discoteques, wedding halls, at parties, and the like, and, while that carries some risk, there’s always the option of quickly ducking out if one senses that the situation is about to take a turn for the worse, or of defending oneself if they have to and they know how.

    Hitchhiking, however, is a far different matter, which carries even bigger risks, because one is not only putting one’s limb and life at the mercy of a complete stranger, but, being confined in a closed, moving car means that the person who was picked up has little or no control over the situation, and the chances of something awful happening are much, much greater. Also, most of the bad incidents that occur while hitchhiking never make the evening news, let alone the papers.

    I say, don’t hitchhike, because it’s too risky. Most people are perfectly normal and honest, but there are also lots of people out there in their cars who have bad intentions, who’re drunk, who are careless drivers, and there are also criminals out there, too.

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