a.k.a. The Rest of the Drive South 🙂
Yeah, as per usual, I made that last post double the size it should’ve been, so I’m posting this… sort of addendum to it this week. And may it serve as a lesson to me – that I have to work on my wordiness – even though we all know I’m not making it into a flash fiction competition any time soon – but also may it be a warning to anyone who favours alternative means of travel.
I would first like to say that I am all for hitchhiking! I know it’s not strictly legal in some countries, and it can be hazardous in others, but if we take all the technicalities out of it – it’s great, fun, cheap way to travel. Or at least it should be and it should go both ways. If you’ve ever hitchhiked in your life you already know that – apart from rapists and psychopaths – there are basically two, no, three types of people who stop for people on the road:
1. Bored people who would like some company for the road, someone to pretty much keep them awake during the long drive (or in the case of a couple of friends of mine – someone to drive while you take a power nap).
2. Lonely people, who need someone to talk to. Anyone! They might be boring, going on and on about something you don’t care one bit about, and maybe they listen to shitty music, but you have to keep in mind that they’re doing you a favour. So it’s only polite to pretend you’re interested in their button collection or that you can never hear enough about how good they had it under the Communist regime and that, yes, you know your generation is all one collective ungrateful sod! You want a ride? Then deal with it.
3. And last but not least, it’s the Good Samaritan – the person who might not hitchhike very often (if at all), but has some respect for those who do and is willing to do someone a favour just because they can. Yes, people who do things out of the goodness of their hearts still exist. I would know as I happen to be one of them (*ehem* 😛 )
Joke and self-promotion aside, my partner and I do pick up hitchhikers. We did that on our journey across New Zealand, too. I haven’t mentioned any of them before because they were not crucial to any of the stories. Nice people, some Kiwis, some tourists; we picked them up, had a chat, dropped them off. No big deal. Oh, and they were all guys up until we got to Franz Josef, and Nikola did note that statistic out loud at some point.
So after we took a quick look at the murky vista of the FJ glacier, we were all ready to go, when we saw two girls with huge backpacks standing by the road with a half-soaked cardboard sign that read “Cookies for a ride” or something to that effect. It was a cute sign, they were looking quite miserable in the steady drizzle, and they were girls so we decided to take them, if only for the sake of diversity (how politically correct are we!).
So we got out in the rain again, rearranged the boot of the car in order to fit their stuff, and we set off. The first few minutes are always a little awkward, but you also have the must-ask-questions: where are you from, where are you headed, What’s up! They also tried to break the ice by offering the cookies promised by the sign. And it was all downhill from there.
The cookies turned out to be one Oreo per person (not that I was greedy, I just hate to be the victim of false advertising), and after the initial offer they were never mentioned again. Then when I got peckish and opened a pack of cookies myself I offered them some too, because… well, manners, I guess, only to turn around and realise the tomatoes-and-basil smell I was sensing did, in fact, come from inside the car. Both girls had taken out a box of homemade pasta each and were going to town. Rude! I didn’t expect them to offer me some pasta, if that’s what you think, but I did expect them to ask before taking out any sort of cooked food, especially one that stains. Sonya (the name we gave our rental car if you’ve missed that) was not a luxury vehicle, but it was a rental. So, in short – not cool. Always ask the owner/driver of the car about stuff like that, regardless if you’re hitchhiking or taking a trip with your best friend!
Then, a while after “lunch” it was time for… a nap! Yes, we were trying to be friendly and considerate about talking (speaking in English to each other), playing music (e.g., I would play Audioslave and not Lamb of God), etc., when suddenly I realised they’re both blissfully asleep on the back seat.
Oh, did I mention it was a 300km stretch we were taking them? No? Well, it was. Since Highway 6 is the only main road on the West Coast we were stuck with them until Wanaka. We were, however, still on a nice trip and once we got out of the overcast mountains the weather got better and we could stop at roadside sights. And we did, dragging the two German duds along (I’m only mentioning their nationality for effect, nothing against German people here. In fact, one of the more fun hitchhikers on the North Island was also a German). They were pretty inert and seemed bored with everything we saw while the two of us were just trying to have a good time. So yeah, thanks for that, duds!
Then, finally, after stopping twice at petrol stations and dropping them off at one, they never even bothered to pretend to offer to chip in for gas. I mean, I know you’re hitchhiking because you don’t want to spend all that money on a bus ride, but we just drove you for about 4 hours, during which you just ate and slept and chatted amongst yourselves! And you left your sign (aka ‘trash’) in the car! You can at least buy us a fucking beer!
Am I wrong?! I don’t think that I am.
So if you two – worst hitchhikers ever! – ever happen to read this, do know this: you were the worst I’ve met, you owe us at least a couple of beers, and if you ever happen to hitchhike again, at least try not to be such assholes! I know it might prove to be a challenge, but at least try.
As for the rest of my dear readers, you should also try to not be an asshole to the nice people who are helping you out on the road when possible and I’m sure you do. I also hope you see where I’m coming from and agree with me. Buy me a beer if you do! Oh, I’m just kidding, it’s not necessary. Won’t fight you too much if you insist, though 😉