Do you ever see hitchhikers these days?

Posted by: fdcg27

Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 10:40 AM

In the 'seventies, hitchikers were a pretty common sight.
A buddy and I actually hitched home from college one weekend, a distance of about 250 miles.
I recall hitching to get to work a couple of days when I was young, poor and single due to car trouble that I had yet to resolve, although I did after a couple of days.
My sweet lady boss actually lent me her car to take to an out of town job interview, a position I ended up getting and taking.
Anyway, I almost never see a hitchiker anymore and those I do see are usually very scruffy looking people who are likely homeless.
What happened to this once common mode of free trasnportation?
Posted by: NMBurb02

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 10:48 AM

People have become more paranoid and watch too many TV shows/movies in which hitchhikers are serial killers/rapists/all around baddies or the drivers picking up the hitchhikers have those traits. So nobody risks picking them up or trying to hitch.

That being said, I would never pick up a hitchhiker or hitch myself. smile
Posted by: eljefino

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 10:48 AM

IMO once it reached a critical mass of scruffy types the legit ones stopped doing it and then it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

OT was hitching popular before the late 1960s and hippies?

Remember the urban crime of the late 70s, "summer of Sam" and all that? This might have made the knowledge and suspicion of anti-social behavior a nationwide "thing".

When I ran out of gas on the Maine Turnpike and was hoofing it a mile to the Kennebunk service plaza, I was picked up in 30 seconds, and didn't even have my thumb out. In fact the guy who picked me up probably saw me exit my car in the breakdown lane.
Posted by: Tomcat_80

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 10:51 AM

FDCG27: Correct me if I am wrong, but nowadays isnt hitchhiking illegal in most of the U.S.A.? I have saw some down here, myself but never picked any of them up as they do look pretty rough. I remember my grandpa telling me about "hobos" on trains, though never about hitchhikers.
Posted by: fdcg27

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 10:55 AM

I picked up a father and young son on I-71 south of Columbus one day.
They had run out of gas, so I took them to a station, the guy filled the gas can he'd brought with him, I took them back to their car and saw that they were able to get on their way before leaving.
One day, I was driving up I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati when I discovered what the worsening vibration was in my MGB. The front u-joint broke. This made a horrible noise as the driveshaft battered its way around under the car. I pulled off the road and started walking. A nice young Mexican guy who spoke very little English picked me up and drove me home.
I had the car towed home and had it fixed the next day.
Posted by: JHZR2

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 10:58 AM

I can't imagine that most people would feel safe.

Flipping the question - did there used to be as many sign-holding beggars as I see these days? Not many around here, but in the cities and in the midwest I see a LOT.
Posted by: eljefino

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 11:05 AM

It's often "the poors" who pick up hitchhikers, or for that matter, offer jump starts.
Posted by: whip

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 11:13 AM

I still see them. Not as many as I used to, but they're still there.
Posted by: Thax

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 11:25 AM

I surely dont . A friend of mines Father was stabbed by a hitchhiker on 395 going into DC one night. My fathers friend is a gnarly Marine Vietnam Vet and he defended himself by throwing the guy out of the car at 60mph and continued to drive home with a knife in his shoulder. He wasnt even going to go to the Hospital till his wife made him lol . Every time I see a hitchhiker I think of my friends dad.d
Posted by: yonyon

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 11:33 AM

I've never seen anyone outside of Lakewood trying to hitchhike. Inside Lakewood it's different. There's a large Orthodox community there and for a lot of people, hitchhiking is just how they normally get to work and back. Even children hitchhike there and nobody is worried about the safety of it. The Orthodox generally don't go around mugging, kidnapping, or murdering their own.
Posted by: hattaresguy

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 11:40 AM

Years ago my buddy who was married at the time saw a very attractive middle aged women thumbing it along Rt 8. So he stopped and it turns out she just broke up with her husband and ran out the door. So he took her to her sisters house and she bought him coffee as thanks.

He said he stopped because she looked out of place, ie nicely dressed, but no coat, it was winter.
Posted by: dishdude

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 11:42 AM

Originally Posted By: Thax
I surely dont . A friend of mines Father was stabbed by a hitchhiker on 395 going into DC one night. My fathers friend is a gnarly Marine Vietnam Vet and he defended himself by throwing the guy out of the car at 60mph and continued to drive home with a knife in his shoulder. He wasnt even going to go to the Hospital till his wife made him lol . Every time I see a hitchhiker I think of my friends dad.d


It's a real shame, you never if the person you're picking up is just down on their luck or is looking to stab you in your shoulder.
Posted by: CharlieJ

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 11:54 AM

I still see them often here.
Posted by: Spazdog

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 12:26 PM

My dad hitchhiked his way back to Ft Bragg when his '56 Chevy's transmission went belly up in the Tennessee mountains.

I remember him saying that if you were in uniform, one of two things would happen when you stuck your thumb up on the side of the road in the '60s. You had a beer bottle launched at you by "peace loving" hippies or you got a ride.

In Tennessee in those days, you got a ride. Probably from someone who recognized the "All American" bookends on your shoulders, CIB, and Infantry cord because he had earned his in Europe. Or maybe a Marine who had stormed beaches in the South Pacific. Can't say the same thing for California.
Posted by: Chris142

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 12:45 PM

All the time. Not legal on the hwy but On the back roads daily.
Posted by: 2010_FX4

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 12:53 PM

I still see them from time to time as I travel around, but they are far less numerous than they were some years ago. While working in Colorado in the mid-nineties, I stopped and gave a guy a ride to the next town. He was in a U-Haul truck towing a car and had the hood up. I could tell by the way that he was kicking the tire on the truck. the odds of him looking to rob someone was pretty low. I stopped for gas at the exit and he assumed that I wanted him to pay for some gas, but I let him know that I was stopping anyway and he did not owe me a thing. He was just having a bad day and could not thank me enough when I dropped him at the police station so he could get assistance.
Posted by: supton

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 01:33 PM

I will stop once in a while to offer a ride, but the last guy was thumbing it to go see his parole officer for his regular check in.
Posted by: tom slick

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 01:35 PM

I still see scruffy vagrants with their thumb in the air.

The modern version is posting an ad on Craigslist stating your destination and travel dates. The examples I've seen are college students.
Posted by: Kira

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 01:43 PM

Hello, Just to "log in", no, I don't see them. One a year around Northern NJ all the way up to the Adirondack Mountains. I used to hitch all the time. Kira
Posted by: DoiInthanon

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 01:45 PM

I used to hitch in the sixties. My grandpa, dad, and many I knew picked up hitchhikers. These days, I don't give rides very often. Never if the wife or my mother is in the car.

No one was more surprised than I a couple of months ago. Suddenly for no reason I stopped for an old guy walking north of the interstate in a direction away from town. White hair in a pony tail with a goatee. He looked at me and the old truck and said no thanks.lol

I asked again and he got in. Asked where he was going and he said the VFW. Which was south of the interstate and east of town. I knew he wasn't a member. Never had seen him around town. All things considered, I should have ended it right there. But I turned around and took him. On the trip he was not very communicative. Perhaps thought I was an axe murderer or something. I told him I could take him to a Veterans Service Officer. No thanks. Caring Center. No thanks. At the VFW he hopped out and said thanks.

I have seen him a couple of times walking around since. But never at the VFW. Keep thinking I'll find out something about him one of these days. I generally pick up a hitch hiker once every year or two. Always on intuition. Probably not smart at my age.
Posted by: AdmdeVilleneuve

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 01:47 PM

Hardly ever anymore. Out here the panhandlers would probably run them off their corner.
Posted by: 285south

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 01:57 PM

I would do it today. But, I would only take a backpack to hold the water bottle, extra set of clothes, nexus 7 and a camera and post a online journey blog called something along the lines of "Hitchhiking across America with Truckers." And on the way back I would just do it with regular people.
Posted by: mcrn

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 02:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Thax
I surely dont . A friend of mines Father was stabbed by a hitchhiker on 395 going into DC one night. My fathers friend is a gnarly Marine Vietnam Vet and he defended himself by throwing the guy out of the car at 60mph and continued to drive home with a knife in his shoulder. He wasnt even going to go to the Hospital till his wife made him lol . Every time I see a hitchhiker I think of my friends dad.d


That is an awesome story...sounds like it should be in a movie!
Posted by: 97f150

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 02:18 PM

Dont see it as much anymore, but still see someone thumbing it once in a while. Mostly offshore rig workers just returning for days off.
Posted by: JTK

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 02:30 PM

Originally Posted By: JHZR2

Flipping the question - did there used to be as many sign-holding beggars as I see these days? Not many around here, but in the cities and in the midwest I see a LOT.


I see this often at the highway exit I use for work (crummy industrial area). One dude stands there as his girlfriend sits nearby on the ground fiddling with her smartphone. It amazes me the amount of people that hand over cash.
Posted by: fsskier

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 02:37 PM

It was a great way to travel....in the 50's and 60's anyway. My traveling uniform was always shorts, and a short sleeved dress shirt (at least in the summer) and attempting to look as harmless as possible usually resulted in immediate rides. Often my travel times on trips of 200 miles or less was about the same as driving, but much easier on the budget of a college student. Often picked up by elderly people who enjoyed the company.

Hitchhiking today. I never see anybody trying it, except:

1. Stumblebums and vagrants. Or at least they have put effort into creating the image.

2. Snowskiers at the bottom of Loveland pass, Colorado and similar locations. Skis over their shoulders, poles in their hand. If you pick them up and return them to the top you will be entertained with tales of high adventure and open terrain mountain skiing. Surely you have a ski rack on your car, not??

fsskier
Posted by: fdcg27

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 02:40 PM

I've been seeing a number of sign holding beggars over the past couple of years.
The first time I saw any was in the early 'eighties, also a very difficult economic period.
They dried up entirely by the mid 'nineties, when anyone with a pulse and a room temperature IQ could make a decent living in the tight labor market of the time.
Posted by: IndyIan

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 03:11 PM

I still see the odd one, some i would never pick up, others look reasonable but my route only gets them a couple more miles down the highway.
Posted by: satinsilver

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 03:26 PM

Even if I see a nice looking lady hitch hiking I'd be concerned about a guy running up out of the bushes to the car and wanting a ride and/or who knows what else.
Posted by: Shannow

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 03:31 PM

They were, and still are very common on Oz roads, and I have been know to pick them up...once very memorable, and I went "missing" for three days...another a bloke described how he'd just been released from jail, and was going to another to visit his brother (He was lying at the side of the road...I thought he'd been hit by a coal truck)...others very interesting foreigners backpacking around the country...others just down on their luck and needing to get home.

As a father with children, and with the way the place is going, haven't picked one up for 5 years or so, except from the city boundary to my turn off outside the Max security prison on the way to work.
Posted by: Tomcat_80

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 03:43 PM

I think if I recall correctly; thats what the movie "First Blood" portrayed John Rambo. I may be wrong, as I have been before.
Posted by: andyd

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 04:26 PM

Every Serviceman hitched. College kids. None of this being driven around by Mom stuff. I started hitch hiking in the seventh grade. I hitched every where until I got a car. Then I would drive the car to a parking lot by the highway and hitch hike into U Mass Boston. I used to get rides easily and often had repeaters. This was in the 60's and early seventies. I rarely see them anymore except on the Cape. Darn panhandlers with signs are on just about every major intersection going out or into Boston.

About 1965 , my 14 yr old buddy ran away from home> He got to within 20 miles of his destination in CA and got picked up by the cops. A drunken lady picked him up because she was too drunk to drive. He got picked up because the cops knew the car. laugh
Posted by: morepwr

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 05:13 PM

Very rarely. And if I do see one, they usually have that homeless look about them. I do remember seeing all kinds many years ago. Often times it was younger men and women who were looking for a ride.
Posted by: eljefino

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 08:43 PM

Originally Posted By: fsskier

2. Snowskiers at the bottom of Loveland pass, Colorado and similar locations. Skis over their shoulders, poles in their hand. If you pick them up and return them to the top you will be entertained with tales of high adventure and open terrain mountain skiing. Surely you have a ski rack on your car, not??

fsskier


Weird, I was going through the rte 302 "notch" in northern New Hampshire, 10pm, not a soul around. (Left my car running for a bathroom break on the shoulder-- that desolate.) Mid-winter. Driving, find a mountain climber guy in full gear frantically waving for me to stop. No thanks!

The frantic waving screamed wierdo. The gear said, competent enough to make it through the night. The hitch-hiking said, poor planning.
Posted by: ls1mike

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 08:52 PM

I see it out here from time to time in Washington state. Mostly young folks headed out to hike the Olympics.
Posted by: Garak

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 10:57 PM

Originally Posted By: eljefino
It's often "the poors" who pick up hitchhikers, or for that matter, offer jump starts.

Being in need often gives one the perspective required to empathize with others in need. In any event, we do see a few hitchhikers up here. I have helped some in need, since I've been stranded at roadside in the past, and it's not fun in a Saskatchewan winter.
Posted by: Silk

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/01/13 11:51 PM

Plenty of hitch-hikers in New Zealand - tourists come and backpack around the country. We lose a few, but they still keep coming.
Posted by: xfactor9

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/02/13 12:50 AM

I rarely see them in California... Maybe a couple times per year. But in Texas, I saw them very often. Perhaps a few times per week.
Posted by: crinkles

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/02/13 01:32 AM

Yes, with their boyfriends hiding behind a tree so they're more likely to get a ride. Pull over and the guy runs up.
Posted by: Benzadmiral

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/02/13 07:54 AM

Originally Posted By: crinkles
Yes, with their boyfriends hiding behind a tree so they're more likely to get a ride. Pull over and the guy runs up.

Yeah, that'd be just my luck, even if I did spot a Nicole Kidman lookalike at the side of the road.
Posted by: spackard

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/02/13 08:37 AM

Hillside strangler (two people) kind of killed what was left of it, along with Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker. I remember hitchhiking changing rather quickly around 1978..1982. (I lived in Orange County, CA, then.)
Posted by: rjundi

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/02/13 09:05 AM

Originally Posted By: eljefino
Originally Posted By: fsskier

2. Snowskiers at the bottom of Loveland pass, Colorado and similar locations. Skis over their shoulders, poles in their hand. If you pick them up and return them to the top you will be entertained with tales of high adventure and open terrain mountain skiing. Surely you have a ski rack on your car, not??

fsskier


Weird, I was going through the rte 302 "notch" in northern New Hampshire, 10pm, not a soul around. (Left my car running for a bathroom break on the shoulder-- that desolate.) Mid-winter. Driving, find a mountain climber guy in full gear frantically waving for me to stop. No thanks!

The frantic waving screamed wierdo. The gear said, competent enough to make it through the night. The hitch-hiking said, poor planning.


Funny you state this. I grew up in the Mt Washington valley in the 1980's and always picked up these hitchhikers in full gear. Many were Appalachian trail hikers.

Although it was very atypical at 10pm. I likely would have stopped.

I worked at the local grocery store in high school. One of my coworkers picked up a random guy in dark clothes on side of road with Alpha Romeo Spider broken down at nite on RT302 in maine. The definition of scary. It turned out to be Stephen King which my coworker introduced me to when the author was shopping.
Posted by: PandaBear

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/02/13 12:59 PM

Now there's craigslist carpool / rideshare forums, I rarely see people doing a thumbs up hitch hiking.
Posted by: Shannow

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/02/13 03:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Benzadmiral
Originally Posted By: crinkles
Yes, with their boyfriends hiding behind a tree so they're more likely to get a ride. Pull over and the guy runs up.

Yeah, that'd be just my luck, even if I did spot a Nicole Kidman lookalike at the side of the road.


Did I mention the time that I picked up a hitchhiker and went missing for three days ?

Oh yeah, I did... grin grin grin
Posted by: UncleS2

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/02/13 08:30 PM

Someone asked if hitching was popular before the late 1960's & hippies etc.

I would say very popular. Dad said he hitched back/forth from Texarkana to Houston for college holidays, until the car that picked him up one day had a bad wreck while he was asleep in the back seat. He was badly injured himself and lost his athletic scholarship over that(1940's) & needed no more rides to Houston. He also hitched several times while in the Army. My uncle, in the mid 1950's, used to hitch from Texarkana(& later, Winfield, LA) to Arlington, TX & back before he finally got into his real choice- West Point. grin2

As a boy, whenever I was with Dad & the whole family wasn't in the car, he would always stop for a serviceman in uniform. I remember several soldiers, a Marine, & at least one sailor in full uniform. When I went to SFA in the early 70's it was common to see students hitching along the way.

I used to pick up hitchers often, but stopped about 20 years ago. We're sort of off the main tracks here, & don't see that many locally.

Posted by: MetalSlug

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/02/13 10:01 PM

when ever I saw some one walking on the freeway ( day time only ), I alway thinking give them a lift, but my gf alway say " remember that movie we was watching ", I keep on driving eek
Posted by: JHZR2

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/03/13 09:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Shannow
Originally Posted By: Benzadmiral
Originally Posted By: crinkles
Yes, with their boyfriends hiding behind a tree so they're more likely to get a ride. Pull over and the guy runs up.

Yeah, that'd be just my luck, even if I did spot a Nicole Kidman lookalike at the side of the road.


Did I mention the time that I picked up a hitchhiker and went missing for three days ?

Oh yeah, I did... grin grin grin


NSFW/NSFBITOG???
Posted by: threeputtpar

Re: Do you ever see hitchhikers these days? - 12/03/13 02:54 PM

Well, it sounds like if I ever find myself in a situation that requires me to hitch a ride, I should probably put on my sign that I'm a member of BITOG.

Might have a better chance of getting someone to stop.