“But aren't you afraid of murderers?!”
It is the question asked most often by people picking me up while I am hitchhiking.
It is also common to be asked this by people in towns whilst discussing the Pacific Crest Trail (and on a related note, people love telling you about the most recent bear attacks across the country – why?!?). The question itself is rather irrational, and what it says about us as a people is quite sad.
I usually respond one of two ways: I either 1) tell the asker that I am more afraid of realistic and important things, like running out of food or water, or 2) I ask them if they are afraid of “murderers”. It is quite silly to think that hitchhiking is dangerous because “the road is filled with would-be murderers just waiting for their next victim to hold out a thumb and ask for a ride”.
Really? You think people are just out there on the road waiting to kill people? You do? Well you are wrong (they may smell terrible, but they are not murderers).
I am far more likely to be struck by a passing car than I am to be picked up and murdered. In fact, the person asking me this question is likely putting themselves in far more danger by simply getting behind the wheel of a car in the first place.
And it somehow always rolls around to the gun question. Again, no, I do not carry a gun. Have you ever even held a gun? They are an ultralighter's nightmare. But don't you need protection? Protection from what?! Bears. Okay well maybe bears, but no, a gun is not necessary.
But what about crazy people in the woods?!
Crazy people the woods?! I am the crazy people in the woods!
It is sad to think that people assume the world is filled with evil people, but hopefully by being picked up as a hitchhiker and then not murdering my ride, I can help to show the world that its faith in humanity should not be lost, and that people can be kind and do favors without ulterior motives (murder) or the expectation of something in return (yes, sex things).
Being alone in the wilderness for days at a time really puts into perspective what's important in life (read: important to live). Namely, food and water, and makes you realize how silly it is to think the woods are crawling with murderers and evil bunnies with spiky, poisonous fur.
So the next time you see some sad, forlorn hitchhiker's face gazing into your car as you zoom by, think to yourself: why am I ignoring this person in need? Chances are, it is because you are an asshole.
Much love to everyone <3.