I put forward the theory that hitch-hikers had a "patch" that they always started hitch-hiking from - much like the patch a prostitute works in (and I don't mean a damp patch), where she walks up and down waiting for business - and that hitch-hikers defended their patches vehemently, just as prostitutes do. Believe me, those prostitutes defend their patch with extreme violence, and fights over patches are vicious and scary to behold.
And will cost you £75 just to watch.
Anyway, I digress. I've always had a small yearning to hitch-hike somewhere, and I view the whole thing with a romantic tint. I just think that it is almost a dying art; putting yourself at the mercy and goodwill of total strangers and travelling around the country meeting people from all walks of life. As I get older , I'm getting more interested in people. I am a people person, and I will chat to anyone given half a chance. So the thought of the myriad of people and personalities that I might encounter in doing such a thing as hitch-hiking intrigues me.
Let me just interject a quick question here: Just after the invention of the car, were the first drivers plagued by mile after mile of people standing by the roadside trying to cadge a lift? At first there would have been very few drivers, but hitch-hiker numbers must have rocketed! I guess over the years, the numbers would have balanced out - with at one brief moment in history the car to hitch-hiker ration being 1:1 - exactly 1 car for every hitch-hiker in existence. That is of course before the popularity of the motor car and the unpopularity of psychotic hitch-hikers swung the numbers in favour of the car forever.
So I am fond of the notion of hitch-hiking. At the same time, however I have always reacted with horror and revulsion at the admittance by female friends that they have picked up a hitch-hiker in the past, because all hitch-hikers are obviously psychotic killers. Except me.
I think there is a definite assumption of "weird loner / serial killer" whenever we see somebody hitch-hiking - at least when it is a man. If it is a female hitch-hiker, then the assumption is that she is a nymphomaniac lingerie model. And if it is two women, they are bi-curious lesbian nymphomaniac lingerie models. Obviously.
I think the film The Hitcher certainly helped to put this notion of the psycho hitch-hiker into our minds. It's a film about a hitch-hiker (Rutger Hauer) who gets picked up by a young man (C. Thomas Howell) and proceeds to be all psychotic and stuff. There's lots of killing and blood, and general would put you off pulling over and offering anybody a lift ever.
And of course, the thought has entered my mind that if I was hitch-hiking, I could end up getting into a car driven by a psychotic serial killer - they have cars too you know, oh yes!. By the same measure I'm sure that nymphomaniac bi-curious lesbian lingerie models have cars too. Believe me, I've looked (but not any more; apparently staring intently at women as they drive past me isn't really the done thing).
I have driven past someone hitch-hiking and have seriously considered stopping and offering them a lift. The trouble is, most hitch-hikers seem to chose to always wait by the roadside in a place where it is difficult or impossible to stop; Roundabouts, outside a school, on the central reservation of the motorway - never a place where a car might actually be able to pull over if the driver was so inclined. For people who are looking for a lift somewhere, they certainly don't make it easy for themselves!!
Still, I'd like to give it a go; I'd like to see if I could hitch-hike from Lands End to John O'Groats - for charity maybe. Or maybe arrange a meeting somewhere in the country with friends, but we all have to hitch-hike to the destination (you might need to book a month off work to allow for travel times). Or just book a week off work, and see where I can get to by hitch-hiking, and have an adventure.
Of course, I understand that there are many people who would still be put off by the notion of hitch-hiking. To these people I say 'psshaw!' and tweak their nipples mercilessly - but also suggest hitch-hiking but not hitch-hiking. But that I mean that they can look the part of a hitch-hiker, but without actually hitch-hiking. let's face it, the chances of actually managing to hitch-hike are quite remote, because we are a selfish, mis-trusting society. But if you want to be really sure of not getting a lift, try these fun things to do whilst pretending to hitch-hike:
- Dress up like Marty McFly from "Back to the Future", and hold a sign that says '1985'.
- Hitch-hike holding a sign that says 'Passenger Seat'. If a car pulls over to offer you a lift, get in, close the door and then say "well, here I am - you can drop me off here", and promptly get out of the car again.
- Hitch-hike holding a sign that says 'Your House'.
- Dress up like a psychotic serial killer - blood spattered apron, fake scars, eyepatch, and a meat cleaver in one hand, and in the other a sign saying 'Anywhere'.
- Hold a sign up with a destination on it, but if you see a car pulling in, flip the sign over to reveal the words 'Not You'.
And the chances of an angry motorist, infuriated by the fact that he pulled over out of the kindness of their heart only to be the victim of some hitch-hiking prank, coming up to you and punching you in the face are almost negligible.
If I ever have a hitch-hiking adventure, I'll be sure to write a blog about it.