I was driving to the post-office yesterday when a gentleman, nearly in the middle of the road, stood with his thumb out. He seemed determined to get a ride. I stopped, lowered my window and asked where he was wanting to go. I thought I could not be much help since I was only going a couple miles, but it turned out he was also going to 7th street.
I told him to get in. He rushed back to the curb to get his bag, while I removed the extra items off the passenger seat and secured my valuables.
Although many people are wary of hitchhikers I don’t let irrational fear hinder me from picking up people that need a ride or hitching a ride myself. There are a couple of rules of thumb that I rely on.
First – always trust one’s intuition. I don’t enter into situation that make me feel uneasy. Acting from the gut and not rationalizing away uneasiness is the best way to proceed.
Second, always ask where the other person is going without giving away your information. For instance, if I’d decided the gentleman I provided a lift for was “off” during our conversation, I could have simply said I’m not going where he wants to go and then driven off alone.
Now, I’m a little paranoid and always expect a threat. This is a result of childhood trauma. I don’t want to live my life from a paranoid place, but I do indulge myself a little. Once the person is my car I make sure my purse or other valuables is not within their reach. I also use my peripheral vision to keep an eye on them.
In this case, I picked up a man that I could easily overpower (assuming he did not have the same martial arts training I’ve got). And, although I’ve gotten the intuitive assessment that he is just an old guy that needs a ride to the drug store, missed the free neighborhood circulator bus, and is burning up in the heat, I am still casually watching to see if he produces a weapon. (I laugh at myself.)
This ride ended uneventfully at Walgreens, where he told me, “love ya” and gratefully exited my car. I guess I am just an extension of the neighborhood circulator. Feels good.