I was always taught you don’t pick up a hitchhiker. Maybe it’s because I’m a female, and my dad didn’t want me getting hurt or being put in dangerous a situation. In his words, “A trucker will pick them up.” So, maybe that’s why I’m so shocked to see so many people have actually picked up hitchhikers.
These 18 AskReddit folks ended up with stories that completely validate my dad’s loving advice.
Just about every time I see someone I stop. I kind of got out of the habit in the last couple of years, moved to a big city and all that, my girlfriend wasn’t too stoked on the practice. Then some shit happened to me that changed me and I am back to offering rides habitually. If you would indulge me, it is long story and has almost nothing to do with hitch hiking other than happening on a road.
This past year I have had 3 instances of car trouble. A blow out on a freeway, a bunch of blown fuses and an out of gas situation. All of them were while driving other people’s cars which, for some reason, makes it worse on an emotional level. It makes it worse on a practical level as well, what with the fact that I carry things like a jack and extra fuses in my car, and know enough not to park, facing downhill, on a steep incline with less than a gallon of fuel.
Anyway, each of these times this shit happened I was DISGUSTED with how people would not bother to help me. I spent hours on the side of the freeway waiting, watching roadside assistance vehicles blow past me, for AAA to show. The 4 gas stations I asked for a gas can at told me that they couldn’t loan them out “for my safety” but I could buy a really shitty 1-gallon one with no cap for $15. It was enough, each time, to make you say shit like “this country is going to hell in a handbasket.”
But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke a lick of the language. But one of those dudes had a profound affect on me.
He was the guy that stopped to help me with a blow out with his whole family of 6 in tow. I was on the side of the road for close to 4 hours. Big jeep, blown rear tire, had a spare but no jack. I had signs in the windows of the car, big signs that said NEED A JACK and offered money. No dice. Right as I am about to give up and just hitch out there a van pulls over and dude bounds out. He sizes the situation up and calls for his youngest daughter who speaks english. He conveys through her that he has a jack but it is too small for the Jeep so we will need to brace it. He produces a saw from the van and cuts a log out of a downed tree on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top, and bam, in business. I start taking the wheel off and, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones and I wasn’t careful and I snapped the head I needed clean off. Fuck.
No worries, he runs to the van, gives it to his wife and she is gone in a flash, down the road to buy a tire iron. She is back in 15 minutes, we finish the job with a little sweat and cussing (stupid log was starting to give), and I am a very happy man. We are both filthy and sweaty. The wife produces a large water jug for us to wash our hands in. I tried to put a 20 in the man’s hand but he wouldn’t take it so I instead gave it to his wife as quietly as I could. I thanked them up one side and down the other. I asked the little girl where they lived, thinking maybe I could send them a gift for being so awesome. She says they live in Mexico. They are here so mommy and daddy can pick peaches for the next few weeks. After that they are going to pick cherries then go back home. She asks if I have had lunch and when I told her no she gave me a tamale from their cooler, the best fucking tamale I have ever had.
So, to clarify, a family that is undoubtedly poorer than you, me, and just about everyone else on that stretch of road, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took an hour or two out of their day to help some strange dude on the side of the road when people in tow trucks were just passing me by. Wow…
But we aren’t done yet. I thank them again and walk back to my car and open the foil on the tamale cause I am starving at this point and what do I find inside? My fucking $20 bill! I whirl around and run up to the van and the guy rolls his window down. He sees the $20 in my hand and just shaking his head no like he won’t take it. All I can think to say is “Por Favor, Por Favor, Por Favor” with my hands out. Dude just smiles, shakes his head and, with what looked like great concentration, tried his hardest to speak to me in English:
“Today you…. tomorrow me.”
Rolled up his window, drove away, his daughter waving to me in the rear view. I sat in my car eating the best fucking tamale of all time and I just cried. Like a little girl. It has been a rough year and nothing has broke my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn’t deal.
In the 5 months since I have changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and, once, went 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won’t accept money. Every time I tell them the same thing when we are through:
“Today you…. tomorrow me.”
tl;dr: long rambling story about how the kindness of strangers, particularly folks from south of the border, forced me to be more helpful on the road and in life in general. I am sure it won’t be as meaningful to anyone else but it was seriously the highlight of my 2010.
It was after this one night my friend and I went clubbing in Toronto. I was pretty drunk, so we decided to leave. We stepped outside and she pulled over a car and told me to get in. The Uber took her to an intersection and dropped her off, and I stayed on because I lived a lot further away.
I got to talking with the driver, and he was the nicest Uber driver I’d ever met – he even stopped to let me pee at a gas station! When I got home, I grabbed my phone to give him a really good rating. That’s when I realized that he wasn’t an Uber driver. My very intoxicated friend had just pulled over a random car last night and demanded the driver take us home.
He actually added me on Facebook and Instagram that day. He’s a pretty cool guy, but things could have easily gone a lot worse that night.
My husband and I were leaving the grocery store and witnessed a big dramatic mulch theft. Yes, someone grabbed a bag of mulch, tossed it in their Jeep and sped off, tires squealing, jumping curbs. It was confusing and hilarious.
The high school clerks were mostly indifferent, but there were a couple employees freaking out and running after the Jeep. Then we turn around and there is this girl standing there with her jaw hanging open, and holding a box of donuts. She just looks at us and says, “I need a ride. I don’t know why he just did that. That’s my cousin.”
The employees who were freaking out kind of turn and start coming toward her now that the Jeep is gone. So we were like, “Okay, let’s go.” She lived two miles away. Sure enough the jeep was parked in the drive. For some reason, her cousin just totally ditched her for a $4 bag of mulch.
I was dropping a friend off at the airport, and some middle-aged guy with luggage came up to my car and asked for money for a taxi back to his hotel. He didn’t know the city’s geography, and a taxi would have cost around $80. He didn’t look too happy when I told him that, and explained that he had just flown in from a job interview in Detroit, and was in town for another job interview the following day.
After hemming and hawing, I let him jump in, and drove him the 40 miles to his hotel. He was apparently an engineer, who I kid you not, worked on rockets, the Space Shuttle, and other various flying things. He said he was out of work, and these job interviews were the last bit of hope for him. We just talked the whole time about his previous jobs.
It was my first time picking up a hitchhiker, and he wasn’t creepy at all.
The trick is to be the weird driver. That way, if you pick up a weirdo you can handle their crap.
My friend and I have had some hilarious times picking up hitch-hikers in his van with that idea in mind. We’re in a band so we have tons of costume pieces in the van. We start putting stuff on depending on who we pick up.
Last week, we picked up a guy on the highway who was trying to get home from a job site. We tossed on some Russian military hats and jackets we found at Goodwill recently, put on stern faces, and pretended we didn’t speak English. After half an hour of silence, he told us to stop so he could get out, either because we were close to his destination or he didn’t want to be in the van anymore. As he was climbing out we both turned around with wild smiles and I yelled, “Have a good night, man!” He looked so confused and just watched us until we turned a corner down the street and couldn’t see him anymore.
I’ve picked up plenty of hitchhikers in my life. One I remember was a 28-year-old guy who was trying to get to Madison to be a test subject for a new ADD medication. Apparently, they lock you up for a couple months, regulate your diet and exercise, then give you a few grand and set you free. Y’know, if the meds they’re testing don’t kill you. Anyway, I got him another 50 miles down the road before I had to turn south. He was nice though.
This past June, right before our wedding, my (now ex) husband picked up three kids and their dog. They were hitching their way to a Rainbow Gathering, so he brought them home to me. We fed them and packed them goody bags full of aspirin and hand sanitizer, along with 10 pounds of dog food, then drove them to the next state. They were a nice bunch of kids.
I’ve also not picked up hitchhikers who I thought were suspect, but I usually go to the nearest gas station and put together a bag of water, Gatorade and granola bars and bring it to them. Even if I think they look creepy, I still don’t want them to go hungry.
When I was twelve or thirteen, my dad and I were on our way home from a few hours away, and he decided it would be a good idea to pick up the hitchhiker on the side of the interstate holding a cardboard sign with the name of our town on it.
When we picked him up, he told us he was transient. He asked just to be dropped off downtown. His name was Stepps. He turned out to be very nice and down to earth. He told us about hitchhiking all over the country and what he had seen. Before we dropped him off, we bought him some McDonald’s and then never saw him again.
My dad’s first words when he got out of the car were, “Don’t tell your mother about this.”
I picked a guy up one time who started out being friendly. He then made some joke about stabbing me with this strange laugh. Like it was a joke but not really. So I told him to get out.
I tried to surprise my long-distance girlfriend by taking a train to surprise her on the night of her birthday. She wasn’t expecting me due to my lack of funds.
So after getting to the train station I hop off and hail a cab… only to hop in and realize I left my wallet on the train. So I got out and started huffing around trying to text my girlfriend’s friends to see if they had a car to come pick me up.
A young woman walked up to me and started making smalltalk, asking me if I went to Queens University, the school to which I was headed. I told her my situation and she offered to give me a ride with her friends who were picking her up.
Two more young women appear in a car, and pick us up. They were stopping to get booze on the way back and bought me a cheap bottle of wine to get things back on track with my surprise for my girlfriend. I couldn’t believe it. They dropped me off at my girlfriend’s and crept me through the windows just well enough to see her do the old jump and wrap the legs around hug.
The girls added me on Facebook, and I realized through looking at our mutual friends that the driver was my second cousin! We chat a lot more often than before, which was never.
The first time I offered a person a ride was when I found this girl sobbing outside a bank I go to regularly. She was surrounded by a lot of people, but I volunteered to drive this young lady home. So she sat in my car, crying and repeating “I don’t want to get hurt anymore.”
As I drove her back to her place, she started opening up and saying bits and pieces of what happened. From what I understood, she was 26 years old. She got pregnant in high school at 16, her parents disowned her, she’s pregnant again, and her “boyfriend” is now leaving her.
At this point, she was really comfortable about telling me her life story, and she asked if I could drive around some more or stop by a park so we could talk. Being a nice guy, I said sure. And then she asked another favor, to buy her a pack of smokes and a few drinks.
Then she asked me to drive her to a cell phone company to add more minutes to her temporary phone. By this time, I felt like her servant. I said I had to go back for dinner because it was getting late and she hinted that she didn’t want me to go.
I insisted, and I finally drove her back to her place. Then this guy comes out of the apartment. She says to me, “Oh crap, he’s going to kill you.” He came up to my car, she got out, they hugged, and he looked at me and said thanks. My first time giving someone a ride.
I spoke with a tourist I met here in Australia, and he was telling me of two backpackers who decided to travel up north separately, but by hitchhiking. They would be picked up by random cars and trucks. Sometimes one would progress hundreds of kilometers ahead of the other, while at other times they discovered they were in the same town. There was even an instance where one had been given a ride in a semi-trailer, and found his friend walking along a remote highway. Reunited!
My father was working nights at an airport, and I was his transportation back and forth. One night he calls me to show up early. As I pull up, my father is standing next to a small man with several boxes. My father instructs me to load up the boxes; they are cold and wet. The man gets inside and my father tells me to drive downtown. It was a quiet ride. We get near downtown and my father directs me towards the Greyhound bus station. I help unload the boxes and I wander around as my father talks a little bit with the man. Eventually, the man boards a bus and my father comes back to the car with one of the boxes. I ask, “Who’s that?” and, “What’s in the boxes?” and my father just smiled. We eventually get home and he brings in the box. My mother joins us as we await for my father’s revelation. We all look over his shoulder as he pulls out….
Fish; frozen salmon, to be specific.
Apparently, the man was a fisherman who had been working in Alaska. He had saved up to transport himself and his cargo, but couldn’t complete his goal of selling off some of his fish to get enough for cab fare to downtown. My father, always a generous man, had offered to give the man a ride for free. As a thank you for the ride, he gave my father a giant box of frozen salmon.
We ate salmon for a while.
I did it once and I’ll never do it again.
I just got off of an 11pm work shift and had to drive 15 minutes home. I stopped at a gas station and a man in his 30s said he was stranded and needed a ride back to his house to get money. I knew the story sounded weird but I said “what the heck.”
As we were driving, he was really fidgety and anxious. He kept rubbing his leg back and forth and rubbing the back of his head as if he was waiting for something. I thought to myself, this guy is going to rob me. My son was a few months old at the time and his rattle was banging around in his empty car seat in the back. I told the guy about it and talked a little about my son. The dude’s body language was making me nervous. I told myself I’d flip the truck over before he’d steal my stuff.
I ended up taking the guy to this neighborhood and he was looking at all these houses. I kept asking if that’s the one or not because the dude had me on high alert at this point. Eventually he asked me for some money so I gave him $10.
I’m pretty sure he wanted to rob me, but I’d like to think that between my son’s rattle and me giving him $10 he changed his mind. Never again will I give a stranger a ride home.
My friend used to walk to work carrying an empty gas can. He always got picked up.
I used to pick up hitchhikers with my friend in his old beater car. It was so worn out that the key would slide out of the ignition when it was turned on. We used to pick people up, give them a beer, and converse until they asked where we were going.
Then we told them that we just broke out of jail (there was no key so they’d think we stole the car). It was funny to scare them for a moment or two.
I picked up some guy by my school once who needed a ride to his apartment about 10-15 minutes away. He needed to get back to his apartment because his brother’s kids were being dropped off there by a bus and he would have missed them otherwise.
He ended up talking to me about how DNA is like a programming language (I’m a software engineering major) and like all programming languages, someone needs to give it meaning for it to do anything. That’s why he believed in God. Someone had to give DNA meaning, or else it wouldn’t do anything at all. I thought it was a pretty interesting concept, though I still don’t believe in God.
My roommate (a straight-laced, straight-A girl) and I were at the college grocery one night at about 1AM buying foodstuffs, when a very thin woman approached me. She said she and her husband had had their car repossessed in the lot. Would I give them a ride to their apartment about three miles away? “Sure, let me finish up and I’ll give you a ride.”
My roommate was having none of it and was very upset. I told her, “It’s okay, stuff happens to people. Sometimes you should just be nice.”
So we finish at the checkout, get the bags and the people, go to my car, and drive them to the apartment. They get out – no harm done.
About two weeks later, I’m back at the grocery with my roommate, and the same woman with a different man comes up. Same story and everything. I tell them, “Sure I’ll give you a ride, just don’t lie. He’s not your husband. You used this line on me a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know who he is, and I don’t want to know, but sure I’ll do it.” She was taken aback, and seemed surprised, but accepted anyway.
Again, my roommate was furious.
I suspect the woman was a sex worker, and these were her clients, but who am I to judge? As long as they don’t hurt anyone, I don’t care.
For the past year, I’ve tried to pull over when I see someone with a broken down car. I don’t drive much, but I’ve probably pulled over about fifteen times. This past summer I was on my way back to school when I saw a guy who was sitting in his car on the side of the road. I pulled over to see if he needed any help.
He was broken down, had no phone, and was two hours from his home, so I let him use my phone to call whoever he needed. I’ve always thought that I wouldn’t pick up a hitchhiker because I don’t know what would happen.
But after he got off the phone, I asked if he needed anything else. He asked for a ride to the nearest gas station. I didn’t even think about it, and told him to get in the car. If I had thought before answering, I doubt I would have offered… but I gave him a ride and no trouble came to me.
I felt terrible for the guy. He was 25, already divorced, and lived three hours from his kids. So every other weekend, he drove three hours in his early 90s piece of crap car to see his kids.
I can only hope that someday I’m as loving of a father as he is.
This article was first published by our partners at Did You Know?