Monday, September 18, 2006

Hitching Stories

I did a lot of hitch hiking around New Zealand in my late teens. It was easiest to get picked up when I was alone, but felt safer when I was with another girl- though in reality some of the worst things happened with a hitching buddy. I rarely hitched with a guy, because it was much harder to get picked up. This was in the mid-eighties and I and my friends mostly were dressed as punks or other alternative style. I used to keep myself warm and entertained by singing and dancing on the side of the road and would flash big smiles at approaching cars, hoping to persuade them to stop for me.

The first time I ever hitch hiked was with a girlfriend who had done it before so I made her get in the front seat with the business man who picked us up. They were chatting and I was dozing and then they went quiet and I woke up to see him reach across to her lap. I looked over into the front seat and saw his fly was undone and he was trying to get into my friend’s pants. It didn’t make much sense to me so I said “What are you doing?” and he angrily stopped the car and left us in the middle of nowhere. It took us a while to work up the courage to stick our thumbs out again after that, but we had to so we did. The next ride was a van and neither of us were willing to sit alone in the front with the driver (who proved to be entirely harmless, like almost everybody who has picked me up since) so we both rattled round in the back for hours.

That experience made me careful but didn’t put me off hitching. I was on the dole and had lots of time and desire to travel but next to no money so it was an ideal way to get around the country. For about two years I travelled between Dunedin and Hamilton regularly as well as exploring other parts of the country. Some of my best rides were with big scarey looking Maori guys and some of my scariest rides were with straight looking white guys. Very few women ever picked me up and they would inevitably tell me that they had done some hitch hiking at some point in their lives.

I had lots of adventures. The craziest trip was from Christchurch to the West Coast with a girl who I didn’t know very well and never saw again after we finally got back to civilization. Our ride over the pass was with a car full of young guys who were drinking cans of beer and throwing the empties out the windows. As soon as we got in and saw that there were no door handles on the inside we wanted to get out so made up some excuse and escaped as soon as we could.

On the way back we got a ride with a man who said he would take us to the turn-off we wanted but he had to do a few detours to deliver magazines on the way. We weren’t in a hurry so we didn’t mind. I sat in the front seat and my friend sat in the back. He was quite friendly and chatty, asking us lots of questions about ourselves. Eventually I noticed that he was wearing a bra under his business shirt and pantyhose under his trousers. When he stopped at the first place to make his delivery I twisted around in my seat and was telling my friend what I noticed about his clothes. She showed me one of the magazines he was delivering and it was a newsletter for people into kinky sex. Then I saw that under my seat there was a tape recorder and I said “Look its recording” as I turned it off and then we saw the man coming back to the car. We were too mortified to try and talk about any of these things with him. We got out of the car as soon as we could and exploded into giggles.

Later that day, we got dropped off at the top of the pass and went to the public toilets to smoke a joint. Just then a bus from the Girls Home in Christchurch stopped there and we found ourselves surrounded by much tougher girls than us who grabbed our joint and finished it while bullying and taunting us. Fortunately their Matron came in and my friend and I took the opportunity to run away as fast as we could and hide in the bushes until their bus had gone past us. Then just as we emerged to try and get a ride, the car with no inside handles screeched to a halt and the same group of drunk young men tried to give us a ride. We ran again!

For years after I got my own car I would stop and pick up hitch hikers, but I have grown more and more cautious, slowing down to look at their faces before I stop. Once I was driving from Christchurch to Invercargill and several times I passed this one Maori man hitching . He was big and rough looking with tattoos and I kept talking myself out of picking him up but then he would pop up again on the side of the road. Finally, just south of Dunedin I stopped and gave him a lift to his destination in Gore. We had a great chat, he was a fisherman heading home for some leave with his family, I felt ashamed that I hadn’t picked him up earlier, but the thing was he gotten so many rides so quickly that he ended up travelling all day at the same pace as me anyway.

1 comment:

E said...

Great stories Meliors!!
I think everyone who has every hitched will have theirs too huh? Can't hitch and NOT have stories to tell really.

I got RSI from hitching. ACC laughed hysterically when I tried to find out about compensation.