I gave a couple of hitchhikers a ride from the gas station on Main and Madison to the Ann Arbor-Saline Road on ramp for westbound I-94 this afternoon. This is not something I would imagine myself doing, but I did it. They were maybe 19 years old and traveling in a pair with a German shepherd-like dog named “Bub.” Hitching is their preferred method of transportation, and this year alone they’ve been from New Mexico to Florida to Michigan. They plan to spend a week at his mom’s house somewhere in Michigan and then head on to Chicago and eventually back to New Mexico. I asked how long they usually have to wait for someone to pick them up, and his record was 5 days in Topeka, Kansas. Usually, though, it doesn’t take longer than 45 minutes. His favorite on ramp is in Bixbie, Arizona; it’s a wide ramp marked “No hitchhiking.” Apparently it’s a popular spot despite (or maybe because of) it’s sign.
I didn’t get to ask how many other hitchhikers they usually see or who usually gives them rides. I did learn that they prefer wide on ramps because they’re less likely to get hit by a car, and people are more likely to pull over where there’s more room. The best places to get rides are on the edges of towns; people will often offer hitchhikers short-term cash-only jobs such as tearing down a house in Pensacola, Florida. He didn’t mind his 5 day stay in Topeka because he made $500 in hand outs for which he didn’t even ask. Those Kansans are just that nice.
I wish I’d gotten their names. I hope their trip is swift and fun. I’m fascinated.