Road trips are awesome. Lone road trips are super awesome. Picking up hitchhikers be can be less awesome or even more awesome; it all depends on who you get.
The best way to see what’s inside a hitchhiker's head, if you don’t want to be one, is to pick them up. To learn from the variety of people, I picked up three hitchhiking couples on my Iceland road trip. All three couples were so incredibly different. Listen to this:
Two guys. Yay! They even looked pretty decent. I decide to take them on. They board my white rocket and we are ready to ride. I am quite excited as I am sure they are super interesting people. With plenty of courage to travel the wild road they’re on. I tell them my name and they tell me theirs. Happy, I ask “Hey guys what’s the reason for your travel?” with a tone of admiration for their courage to embark on hitchhiking. The wiser, more courageous looking guy simply says, “My wife gave birth three months ago. I need a rest.” My jaw dropped. I think what an idiot. This is his courage? The poor mom probably gets 2 hours of sleep a night, whilst he is “traveling”. The initial perception of courage gets redefined in my mind within a second. I realize that courage is a perception, it all depends on how you see it. Lesson learnt. The day-to-day routine of living often takes more courage than running off on an “life-escape” travel.
Sometimes a hero can be an idiot.
Oh these guys look much more fun. The girl has dreadlocks, the guy looks random and very much like a proper road traveler. I am sure I’ll have quite the conversation with them at least; learn something from them. Girl and a boy. I decide to pick them up and, they board my white rocket. So I ask, “How are you? Where are you going?” They respond, “Route one, all around.” I think to myself, Great! My voice sparkles with enthusiasm. But they don’t really seem like chatting. Fine. No problem. Not that I need a conversation at all. I had chosen my lone road trip with intention of not talking to people. I punish them with a bloody old-school dance Polish music which sounds like a series of louds booms. Let the fun begin. After an awkward hour of the odd couple silently fighting with my Polish disco, I get rid of my courageous couple at the back. I say “Guys this is it, I am near my final destination.” They tell me they need to go further to which I respond “Good luck.” Lesson learnt: don’t judge a book by its cover. It took courage to drive with the oddballs for an hour. Never again. And they had the audacity to ask me to drive them for longer. Oh gosh. It took courage to take them on in the first place.
Sometimes you make an idiot of yourself by judging people as heroes.
It’s late. Same day. Nearly 9pm. I love the breaking glacier lagoon but it’s cold now. I am tired. I can’t be bothered to do anything but 50km ahead of me I see the shadow of the hotel I booked. I have to get back on the main road. There’s a couple. I think oh well, whatever, and I take them on. Let me loose again. It’s insanely cold and I genuinely feel sorry for them. No pre-judgements this time. No expectations. Let me just pay it forward do one more favour to the world. Everything comes back. “Jump in guys!” I shout. I put my music on and they ask “Where are you from…” and the conversation begins. They were funny; a “no expectations couple” ended up being the most chatty, pleasant people to talk to. 50 km seemed like a minute drive. I did not fall asleep while driving even though I was extremely tired. Yay! My hotel suddenly appeared out of the mist. They still had 5km to their campsite. I saw the temperature dropping some more, and imagined the frigid 1 hour walk they would need to make with their heavy backpacks. I thought, let me loose again. “I’ll drop you off at your campsite,” I said. Their eyes sparkled and their jaws dropped. They responded
What? You really don’t have to! But that’d be awesome.” It wasn’t a problem for me since it was a 5 minute drive, but it would’ve been an hour walk for them in the freezing cold. I dropped them off. They waved a happy goodbye. Lesson learnt. Have the courage not to judge, not to have expectations, people will surprise you with a shot of positive spark.
Sometimes you become a hero by not judging people as idiots.
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