from Wally's Words by Wally Spiers
One Crazy Ride is Enough
February 27, 1992

I was out walking the other day and someone stopped to offer me a ride.

I didn't want it, but appreciated the offer. It started me thinking about hitchhiking. You don't see many hitchhikers these days-for a good reason.

There's something about kidnapping and murder that discourages such a thing.

But when I was growing up in rural Missouri it wasn't such a big deal. We often hitchhiked and no one thought much about it. Oh, sure, there were warnings about crazy strangers and being in a strange car. But at the time there weren't as many mass murderers driving around the country.

I don't know of anyone who was dismemebered or seriously injured, but when I think about it, everyone had some kind of horror story about hitchhiking.

Mine happened in Ohio, several hundred miles from where I grew up. I was in college and had taken a summer job with a company selling Bible reference books. It sounded like a good job-which only shows what a good salesman the guy who hired me was. Unfortunately, I wasn't nearly as good a salesman as he was, but I didn't discover that until later.

I was based in southern Ohio without a vehicle. We were encouraged to hitchhike to different locations to sell hte books. I had made my way to a small community and had met with some success.

I hadn't sold any books, but I had managed to get lunch and a cold drink. After a lot of slammed doors, that seemed like a good deal to me.

I was headed back to my apartment. It was a long walk so I had my thumb out.

"Keep smiling," the supervisors used to say. "Never give up. You'll get a ride."

After about 20 cars my smile was pretty fake, but I still had it on when a car pulled to the side. A couple of young guys were inside, They seemed friendly enough so I got in.

We roared off. I do mean roared. Within a minute we were hitting 80 mph. We zoomed along, passing slower traffic while an argument raged in the front seat.

Turned out the guys in the front seat were brothers and the younger one wanted to drop out of high school.

"You tell him," the older one said to me, turning in his seat and ignoring the road. "I dropped out and look what it did to me. Three years in prison and I can't find a job."

"I don't care. I'm tired of school. What will it get me?" the younger one said.

"Tell him how good it is. Tell him what it will do for him," the older one pleaded with me.

I was in a dilemma. At the moment it seemed that the only thing that my high school education had done for me was get me in a car with an ex-con and a soon-to-be high school dropout, going 80 mph on a southern Ohio highway while passing a car on a curve.

I didn't think that argument would do much convicing for the kid so I made up something about earning more money and making iit easier to get a job. I laid it on thick about how if he could survive school that would show people he could survivie antyhing. But I dobut that the kid listened.

Luckily, we were approaching town and we had to slow down to avoid slower cars. I got out at the first intersection assuring them this was right near where I lived even though it was miles away.

I took my high school education and got the heck out of Ohio-on a bus.

So I guess hitchhiking can be vaulable after all, it sure taught me a lesson.

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