Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Long before the horror stories about hitchhikers, I used to hitch rides all the time. When I was in the military, my friend Kirk Trachy and I hitchhiked from Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey to New London, New Hampshire over the Thanksgiving weekend. We threw our stuff in our duffel bags and headed out on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon. We hitched a ride with a guy from the post who was headed home to Pennsylvania so he dropped us off at the connection for the turnpike and we headed northeast. We learned early on to wear our uniforms and we caught a ride within minutes and they took us all the way to Massachusetts. Our luck ran out before we got to Chesterfield and we were stranded on the interstate at 2 a.m. I began questioning the wisdom of hiking when a big white Ford slowed to a stop where we had sought shelter under a concrete bridge. We both ran and jumped in the car before we noticed that it was a woman traveling alone who had stopped. We both thanked her profusely. We were cold, tired and hungry. She asked where we were headed and we told her New Hampshire. She asked if we were hungry...we lied and told her we were fine because we didn't want to inconvenience her. We were truely thankful when she said she could use a cup of coffee. We pulled into a truck stop and I think we ate a dozen doughnuts each and washed it down with hot coffee before hitting the road again. I think she must have sensed we needed something to eat.
I wondered to myself how she found the courage to stop and pick up two stranded soldiers at that time of the night, but as we drove into the night, she told us that the reason she stopped was because she had a son in the military. He was currently serving in Vietnam. She went on to say that she realized it was risky picking up hitchhikers in the middle of the night, but when she saw us in uniform she stopped anyway. "I just thought to myself, what if that were my son?"
We rode on into the night, lost in our thoughts as we listened to James Taylor singing "Rockaby Sweet Baby James," and Mother Nature kissed the windshield with tiny snowflakes.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post, Rick. Set off my goosebump reflex.

    Bless that lady's heart for giving you and Kirk a ride that night, and bless your heart for writing about it. I'm heading off to listen to some James Taylor before I go to sleep.


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