Hitch Hiker

story by: Daniel Miltz
Written on Jan 25, 2017

Hitch Hiker

Nov 11, 2015 • By daniel miltz •

My body is older now, and not as good as it used to be, but my spirit is young and free. Age is nothing but a number as long as I never let go of the child living inside of me.

So let me tell you some stories about life on the road when told by a successful ROLLING STONE can have a strong influence on a restless young fellow, like me. I spent a lot of time alone trying to catch rides in isolated places all across the USA. I read Jack Kerouac novels in lonely places in order to pass the time. I talked and answered myself religiously a lot over those forlorn and desolute hours of isolation. I was always content though knowing my angels were over me looking after my wandering soul.

The road" can seem like a river if you're caught up in its current. Life on the road is drastically different from a sucker life in society.

The road is a "black river of asphalt" upon which every imaginable form of humanity flows. Their modes of transportation are as distinctive as the individuals that pilot them. Forensically, motor vehicles are as revealing to a trained eye, as are thumbprint, to an experienced fingerprinter. NO two vehicles ever look the same to a perceptive hitch-hiker. But there is little that you can do to protect yourself against the unknown, so no matter how you do it, "hitch-hiking is very dangerous." You got to know how to handle it!

I should know because, I did it more times than most people would even ever dream of. But it was my dream when I escaped the town of my rebel youth to hitch-hike around the country (USA), and so I did -- for about 10 years on and off. Connect that to the same amount of time (and more) standing behind watching multitudes of people pass by and you'll see why I used to claim that "I have seen one tenth of the population of the United States with my own eyes." It really doesn't matter how many because the point is, I saw too much. FOR EXAMPLE:

I remember once I sat in a wooded, highway median trying to decide which direction I wanted to go next. I was at the intersection of two major interstate highways. One went north/south and the other east/west. I contemplated before I eventually decided to go west. Upon deciding, I grabbed my gear and strapped it to my featherweight body and made my way out to a desirable hitch-hiking spot on a selected highway. I caught a ride around 5pm and made it to Missouri, from somewhere in Indiana (several rides later), by sunrise the next day.

Ironically, some hippies in a blue station wagon picked me up just outside of St. Louis. I had to really squeeze in to fit, but nobody minded it. I was told (by the hippies) that there was a huge, free, fourth of July concert under The Arch in St. Louis that day, and that I could go with them if I wanted to, so I did.

To say that I had a good time would be an understatement because that party rocked! Bands performed on a gigantic stage under the famous landmark situated alongside the Mississippi River. The Arch in St. Louis is supposed to represent the gateway to the west. My new friends and I were both plastered (drunk) on sour mash and cheap wine by the time the torrential rain came and ended the party, so I headed for some nearby shelter instead of the highway.

Here I am taking a leak on a chain link fence by the shelter in the pouring rain, when I noticed a train tunnel down below. I had to climb the fence and drop down a steep cement wall to the tracks in order to reach it. I went over the fence first with my pack in tow. Thanks to my railroad experience, I was able to side step onto the moving train, by hopping on a boxcar. A voice inside my head was saying, ''Go West Young Man!'' And that's what I kept on doing. AND THERE ARE MANY MANY MORE STORIES TO TELL.

More than one hitch-hiker has died from "over-exposure," but what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. You enter another world every time you climb into a car when you are hitch-hiking. The first thing that hits you is the smell. This sets the pace as you examine the face of your new captor. Will they be kind? Are they cool? Why did they really stop, and what do they want from you?

BEING A FREE LOADER...I used to solicit rides out of truck stops by offering "to help with your load for free (unloading) if you happened to be going my way," so in a sense that made me a "Free Loader." I imagine that some "hitch-hiking girls" have used this same line in some submissive way, but please understand that I never meant it the way that they probably did. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Be that as it may, I sought to satisfy my wanderlust, panning for rides from the highway. Out there, Big Rigs will seldom/almost never stop for some yo-yo with his thumb in the air, but they will if a good-looking girl is stuck on the side of the road with her shirt jacked-up exposing her breast somewhat and you with her. I tried to find as many hippie girls to hitchhike with as I could. After awhile, you discover in your trekking, getting free rides in passing vehicles becomes a science.

If you and I were hitch-hiking together, I would instruct you on precisely where to set down your "pack" and where to stand. I would be critical of the impression that our presence, on the highway, was making to the passersby. Beggars can't be choosers, but pickers can, so it obviously pays to look sprite and fresh whenever you are hitch-hiking. I used to wear my bright colored orange and yellow shirt labeled 'America.' And I had a bright blue mountain backpack with a red sleeping bag, and a one man pup tent for sleeping in the woods or next to a lake, river or pond. And a thin foam rubber pad for sleeping under bridges along with my other bodily essentials that I needed to be unsullied, like a rubber hose for showering in gas station bathrooms.

Location is everything to a talented hitch-hiker, as myself. First-off, there has to be enough space for a person that is willing to stop for you to safely pull over. Secondly, the hitch-hiker and all of their belongings must be fully visible to the on-coming traffic. It's a buyer's market out there, so as a hitch-hiker you must package yourself properly for quick visualization. Sometimes, nothing that you do works.

Talking about quick visualization: Lastly, I want to tell you: A friend of mine an old transcendentalist from California named Kelly told me a hitch-hiking story that really does prove otherwise. He was hitch-hiking in the dark one night in the forestry woodlands of Oregon and, needless to say, was getting nowhere... and it was raining to boot! You would be surprised at the number of good Samaritans that will hesitate or not even stop to pick up someone who is all wet. Kelly told me that, "a tree talked to him and told him to come and stand next to it." The tree promised, that if he did, he would get a ride, so Kelly obliged. Almost immediately a car's brakes were slammed on and after skidding to a halt, the car backed up to where Kelly and the tree were standing. "I almost didn't see you", the driver said to Kelly, after he got in. "I thought that you were a tree", the driver explained!

I always wonder why Kelly talked to trees. Kelly was a very cool spirited hipster who had really long wirery red hair and a beard... that looked just like a BUSH.


Tags: happy, deep, encouraging, scary, imagery,


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