Today, I saw something completely unremarkable, totally thinkable, and extremely common; a hitchhiker. Why is this even worth mentioning? I can pick any day of the week and see someone walking on the roadside. So what? Why is this topic deserving of a blog entry?
Today marked the first time I felt bad about not stopping. Not only did I not stop, my first thought was “sucks to be her.” But it was on my way back, passing her for the second time, that the gears started to turn. It was about 90 degrees outside and she was walking in the grass along the side of the road. A white purse was slung over her shoulder and held against her while she trudged along in the heat. I could see the look of irritation on her face but it was the look of resignation that stuck with me.
She had the look that this long walk was just another moment in a crappy day, week, month. It was that look that made me consider offering her a ride. I felt so bad for her. I had been in that scenario hundreds of times and would spend every step wishing some charitable soul would stop and bring me just a little ways down the road.
But it’s 2013. The reason horror movies don’t feature hitchhikers anymore is that sometime after the 80’s, we as a society collectively decided that hitchhikers are dangerous and should not be picked up. Therefore, hitchhikers aren’t scary because they aren’t even a second thought.
I felt a little sick as I continued on my way. My brain played dozens of scenarios. What if I offered her a ride and she accepted and then proceeded to stab me in the throat? What if she called the cops and accused me of something nefarious? What if she just screamed “NOOOO!” and started to run back in the opposite direction? What if my ignoring her caused her to get picked up by some lunatic and then anything that happened to her would be my fault. All of these thoughts happened simultaneously while this young lady continued on her way and I on mine.
So, I pose these questions to you. Have we come to such a point in our history that I have good reason to have been afraid to offer her a ride? Or was my decision evidence that I am a part of the problem? Is common decency is out the window in place of self-preservation? Or did I make a smart decision to leave her alone?