Bits and Bytes

Some Hitch Hiking Guidelines

The other night, after I took Polaroid pictures of the cows (entry above), I got back in my car and started home. I got on Highway 101 at Pengrove. As I’m accelerating up the on ramp I see two hitchhikers and I decide to pick them up. I have hitched before (in Europe, Canada, and Central America) so I decide to give these young people a break. I’m not going far, just from Petaluma to Healdsburg.

So, I stop. They ask where I’m going and ask if it’s worth it (only ~35 miles north). They hesitate. I say that sometimes, it’s better to get to the edge of the metropolis because it is more likely that more people would be going a longer distance. They shrug and get in. The girl in front–good hitching etiquette I think.

Today, after that particular hitch hiking experience, I have decided to blog about some good hitch hiking guidelines and etiquette (based on my own experiences of course).

  • Always hitch with a partner. Female/female combo works best. Male/female combo works well. Have no idea about single males or male/male combos.
  • Agree what the guidelines for the trip are before you go.
  • If a car stops, ask where the driver is going and then decide together if you are going to get in the car.
  • If the driver is a woman and you are in a male/female combo, the female gets in the front seat.
  • If the driver is a male and you are in a male/female combo, the male gets in the front seat.
  • Use public transit to get to the edge of a metropolis before you start hitching. There is a higher percentage of vehicles going the distance.
  • Don’t hitch at night. Nobody picks you up.
  • Have a backup plan if nobody picks you up. On one particular trip, my friend Vicky and I had to find the bus station in Manchester and take the bus to Glasgow. We lost a lot of confidence on that trip–probably due to the worry her mum instilled into us for the five days before our trip.
  • Carrying some food and water is always a good idea.
  • Don’t catch an unknowing person off guard at a petrol station–even if you are desperate for a ride. It’s not good enough to just ask where someone is going, decide you want to go there too, and jump in their car. Not only is it dangerous, but it is simply bad hitch hiking etiquette.
  • Always have a map so you know exactly where you are and when you need to get out.
  • If it is 11h00 in the morning and you are in Northern Quebec and there does not seem to be too many options for rides AND the driver has a large, open bottle of beer between his legs, don’t get in the car. He is likely to be a complete nutter and drive accordingly.
  • You could always carry a wee plastic figurine as a mascot and good luck charm for rides. My friend Vicky and I carried Wop the Weave. I have no idea where Wop is now, but Vicky lives in France with her family. Lucky girl.
  • For personal protection, you could carry a can of mace. Make sure, however, that if your destination is your boyfriend’s house in Scotland, that he knows the difference between a can of mace and a can of perfume or body spray. Otherwise, he might confuse the two and spray it in the air for a whiff (because he hasn’t seen you for a while). You have to evacuate the entire flat for a few hours while it dissipates.
  • Finally. Of course. Always know where your towel is.

That’s it. That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll see if I can find some pictures. I know I have one of Wop the Weave. I’ll have to see what other ones I find.

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