A few days ago I shared a thought or two about blogging homework and mentioned ideas gathered while visiting other sites. Well, here’s the first one.
I found a rather amusing and good read about the art of hitchhiking over at Midhum Antony’s site. Do please click here to enjoy the read. I left a comment, adding a few extra tips… all from past experience.
Tip one… stand out from the rest… wear a red shirt!
Well, many may say that’s daft but wait one… here’s the reason.
I’m from South Africa. It’s a big country. Not as big as the US of A, Oz, Canada… Brazil or China but still big. Many moons ago we had conscription. Now, that meant you were often called to duty a long way from home. You didn’t have money for plane rides and the train took far too long. If you didn’t know someone going your way who owned a car then you were left two choices. Spend the long weekends alone in camp or hitch!
I chose the latter. Easter Weekends in SA are the longest, you’re off on the Friday and Monday so if you play your cards right you may even get to spend half your time at home. Yep, leave camp on Thursday evening and with a bit of luck you’ll be home before midnight on Friday night. But alas, you’d most likely be back on the road before sunrise on Monday.
OK, back to standing out. On the weekend of the red shirt incident I’d been lucky enough to catch a lift for the first third of the way (Pretoria to Bloemfontein) with an acquaintance. Before I get to the other detail, we always hitched in uniform. No one would even consider picking up a hitcher in civvies and you’d stand even less chance if you didn’t have short, military style hair.
So, as I was sorted for the first section of the trip I chose to wear comfortable civvies. I threw a few things into a bag for the weekend and grabbing my uniform, even remembering the shoes. It was only the next morning before sunrise, when putting on my uniform, to hitch the rest of the way that I realised I had NO light blue airforce shirt with the rest of the uniform.
Man, a red shirt with full blues, as we called our dress uniform, would look great, only I’d most likely get court-martialed if I pulled a stunt like that! Only one option… wear civvies. My new plan revolved around the usual with a difference. I’d lift my uniform with the left hand each time I stuck my right thumb out.
I was fortunate to get my first ride out of Bloemfontein early. The driver actually noticed my uniform before I’d lifted it. He was going to Port Elizabeth and as I was going to Cape Town he agreed to drop me on the other side of Colesberg. Great, thought I, I’d have a jump on the others leaving Bloemfontein as I was out of the town early.
Two or so hours later the car stopped on the Cape Town side of Colesberg to let me off. Was I in for a surprise. The fellow went on his merry down the left fork of the road while I assessed the the dire situation. The right fork was dotted with lads, each spaced at about 100 meters apart. They’d been standing waiting for a long time and by the looks and grunts of them when I walked by it was evident that me getting here, even so early on the Easter Friday morning, meant I stood little or no chance of seeing Cape Town in a hurry!
Some of the lads must’ve slept next to the road the previous evening. The looks on some of their faces suggested disdain and surprise that I, in civvies, was gonna get even a minus 30% chance of a ride. I walked on, pasting by the lads who’d arrived at the Cape Town fork before me, as it was the rule of the road that you’d only join the end of the line.
To make matter worse, there was very little traffic about. Seemed as if most Cape bound drivers must’ve passed by during the night. I’d previously heard horror stories of lads standing on the homeward side of the road for 24 hours before dejectedly walking across the road to hitch back to camp. I was about to reconsider my option when I heard a car in the distance. The car was heading in our direction and as he rounded the bend, passing the first lads, one could hear the engine roaring louder. This driver was in no mood for slowing, he was putting foot!
I was last in line so I expected that by the time he passed me he’d be well up to speed so he’d roar on. How wrong could I be for as he approached I realised he was braking… and braking hard! He rolled to a halt a little distance passed me and hollered from the interior of the car…
“You coming or staying.”
Well, my shocked legs found motion and within seconds I was tossing my belongings onto the back seat before jumping into the front. I noticed a few of the lads running in our direction. I could’ve sworn I heard their curses as the driver pulled away!
The driver told me to look back… and sure enough, you could see the lads gesturing obscenities. To cut a long story short… the driver soon revealed why he’d stopped for me.
“It’s that shirt of yours… so red it’s like a beacon in the wilderness. I just had to find out the story behind your dress… that’s why you’ve got a lift and not the others!”
I was home some nine hours later. So, the moral of the story if you’re hitching… stand out in the crowd! Wear a red shirt! Lady Serendipity sure knew how to dress me for success!
Thanks to Senior and Junior Sons for posing…
Happy Friday!! May all your roads take you where you want to be!!