Secrets of the World's Greatest Hitchhiker


Originally published at:


When in my first year of college I had a job at a pizza shop about 5 miles down the same road I lived on. I would thumb to work every afternoon.
After a while, regular commuters recognized me and would give me rides. Even women traveling alone would pick me up.


I didn’t see the part where Lazzarino was openly racist. I only saw That their driver Margaret was racist. Did I miss something?


In the nineties I hitchihiked through Europe. On my last route from London to Berlin I was stuck outside London in the rain for hours, no one wanted to pick me up. I then thought I could make a joke out of it and held up a sign reading “MOSCOW” as my destination (instead of Dover, where the ferry was going to continental Europe). Every passing driver visibly laughed and I knew I was onto something. Third guy who passed stopped with his motorbike and when I approached him he could not stop laughing. i asked him where he’s going and he told me that he just wanted to go to the next gasstation, but he would drive me all the way to Dover (around 70 miles away), because he thought I was funny. He even gave me his only helmet. Was one of the best rides I ever had :wink:


Yikes! Thanks, my shitty reading comprehension strikes again.


In my post college years (the 70’s) I did a good bit of hitchhiking both in the states and all around Europe, sometimes alone and sometimes with a female companion. I even made it from NYC to the door of my parents home in the Midwest in 2 days once. I had a few weird rides, but never a threatening one. I got rides from both men and women, young and older.

Then the stories started to hit the news about psycho hitchhikers, and psycho drivers who preyed on hitchhikers, and hitchhiking went from commonly seen to rarely seen. It went from a benign and friendly way to travel to something menacing and dangerous. Nothing really changed except public perception of it. Come to think of it, the same process occurred around taking LSD too. The news stories about people jumping out of windows, and crazy hopped up acidheads, turned a benign and sometimes enlightening experience into something fearful.

Funny how that works.


Made me nostalgic for all of the hitchhiking I did across Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Too many stories to tell, only a couple of bad ones.


Interestingly, there are deep-rooted differences in willingness to take a hitchhiker in different European countries. Croatia, for example, is a pain. Neighboring Slovenia, apparently, not at all. Germany, well, depends on I don’t know what. Moon phase? If you de-gaussed your wardrobe? IDK. Belgium seems to be really easy, but I could be mistaken. Portugal seems good, Spain also. No idea about Greece and the rest of the Balkans south and east of Croatia.

I guess there are stories to tell behind that…


Fun times hitching through Europe in the late 90s. Also, with my soon-to-be wife in Japan shortly after. Lots of great stories and generous people.


Last year I read Sinclair Lewis’s novel about America’s relatively nascent car culture, Free Air. Though published in 1919 its set in the early years of the car and it seems right out of the gate much of our car culture was with us, including road rage. There’s a memorable part dealing with a scary hitchhiker. The hitcher was an itinerant farm hand looking to get down the road for another opportunity an it seems like his behavior probably pre-dated cars. I’m sure there were scary hitchers as well as scary ride givers even going back to the horse and cart. But I get your meaning about the media amplifying the dangers - not unlike the “horrors” of razor blades and tainted Halloween candy. The possibilities end up being much worse than the actuality.


BB, living up to the “mostly wonderful things,” again. This was one of too few news stories to make me smile this week. Reminded me of my post-Highschool, precollege sabattical (1995-2000) when I spent a fair amount of time hitching through the US and Mexico, sometimes solo, sometimes with others. I had a couple sketchy rides, but overwhelmingly good. As a young woman, it taught me the inherent generosity and goodness of most humans, even those with differing political views, and gave me the confidence to extricate myself from potentially bad situations with finesse. I find those memories give me a lot of resilience in troubling times like we have now. I hope the younger generations have some opportunity, even if not hitching, to experience their countries and the world in such a humble, direct way.


I always thought that could be easily solved with a metal detector.


how many did you kill, BOB SAGET?


I hitch-hiked a lot, from 1970 to 1980 across the US, north to south. My first trip when I was 13 y.o. was to Big Sur with my friend Kennnie. Coming home, I’m pretty sure we were picked up near Santa Cruz by the coed killer, Edmund Kemper.


“Acidhead Hitchhikers” sounds like a Roger Corman movie. “This was the ultimate TRIP!!!”


Dude, you are one of the most learn-ed übernerds on the planet!!! I reject this notion and offer you a cup of coffee and a chill pill.


You don’t see many people hitching in the UK these days, but the few people I’ve picked up have either had amazingly interesting lives, or been superb at making up stories.
Either way I’m happy. All I want in exchange for a lift is to be kept entertained.


as a teenager, hours of boredom stranded on backcountry roads made me fantasize about one day writing a “hitchhiker’s guide to america.” one of my own personal rules was never stand still. you don’t deserve a ride if you’re not already headed there, was my rationale. hitchhiking was basically walking backwards.


Or in different regions inside a country.


… before colliding with the car in front/a wall/Villarino himself, having taken both hands off the wheel