I’ve read two books about hitchhiking in my life, the first one is called, “Hitchin’—God’s Way of Letting You Know You Don’t Have A Car,” which is by local author and writer, Danny Maness who is also a sometime guest and contributor to The Greg and Dan Show.
The second and most recent book with the subject matter of hitchhiking I’ve read is “Carsick” by John Waters. My friend Amber recently gave me this book and it’s a fun story of Waters hitchhiking from Baltimore to San Francisco. This book just came out a couple years ago and after reading some publicity about the book, it got me thinking about how people think it’s so radical and weird to hitchhike these days.
Back when I was a kid in the ‘70’s we used to hitchhike all over Peoria. I started doing this when I was in sixth grade and kept at it till I got my driver’s license when I was 16-years-old. I haven’t hitchhiked since then and wondered what would happen if I went out and stuck out my thumb on a road here in Peoria these days. Well, we won’t have to wonder long, because here we go, thumb in tow as I try hitchhiking on University Street!
In the John Waters’ book, Carsick, that inspired this whole hitchhiking adventure today, he had special cards made up that said, “Thanks for the ride,” and I thought that was a cool thing to do. I didn’t have time to make any cards like that up, because I just thought of doing this for the blog the day before—yeah, I don’t plan that far ahead here, I’m always guessing I’ll be dead tomorrow, so I don’t want to waste ideas or time thinking too much about tomorrow. But I do have these MBIP business cards and if someone does pull over to pick me up, I’ve decided I’ll give them one of these and ask to go to a gas station, give them ten bucks to put gas in their car and offer to buy them a treat for picking me up. And of course we’ll take photos for the blog. Okay, time to start walking to our hitchhiking destination.
Here we are walking up Willow Knolls Drive on our way to University Street. I figured that’s where I’d try to hitch a ride, it’s not far away and there’s usually a decent amount of traffic at this time of day. Oh, it’s about 12:40 in the afternoon by the way. I figure I’ll try and hitchhike for about an hour and see what happens. But first we have to get there, I hate the fact you have to walk in gravel on Willow Knolls Drive. That’s one thing I miss about New York, there’s sidewalks everywhere, it’s a walkers paradise. Not so much here, but let’s just keep moving along.
Okay, here we are at University and as you can see, there’s sidewalks here. Hallelujah! We’ll just walk up a little further to a decent spot to stick out my thumb and try to snare a ride today. I have a weird feeling of being both nervous and excited. And it's kind of a sickening feeling, I have to confess being addicted to! Oh well, better than meth I guess!
Okay, I’ve found my spot. It’s about a block up from this sign. I like this spot because there’s a street right behind it to pull into and this way someone doesn’t have to stop directly on University to pick me up. There’s also a traffic light nearby, so people will be slowing down somewhat and maybe they’ll see my sad hitchhiker face and pull over and have mercy on me. We’ll see!
I just realized that since I’m all alone out here there’s no one to take my picture, so I took a self-portrait on the side of the road. Okay, here comes some cars, time to put the camera away and see what happens! The excitement is building!
Okay, it’s about twenty minutes later and the excitement isn’t quite as much in the air anymore. So far people have been giving me looks like I’m the second coming of Charles Manson and one guy on the passenger side of a car flipped me off with the finger as he passed by and another person called me an asshole. Well, I’ve been called worse, but still, I’m just standing here trying to get a ride, is this kind of treatment really necessary? One thing I’ve been staring at out here as cars continually pass me by like I’m a road sign that says, “Ignore Me,” is that store over there. The name of it is, “Bathrooms Plus,” and as i stand here it’s really starting to get on my nerves. I mean talk about an open-ended name for a business! Think about it, “Bathrooms Plus.” What does that even fucking mean? Bathrooms plus what? Toilet paper? Reading material? Or does it mean that there’s something totally different than bathrooms in there? And the vague word of “Plus,” means it could be anything. I mean are there whores in there? Is there dwarf bowling going on in there? Enquiring minds want to know! And what the fuck is a bathroom store anyway? Who goes to a store to buy a bathroom? I’ve always rented places and a bathroom is always included in the deal. I’ve never had a landlord say, “Well, the apartment’s going to be 575 bucks a month, but you need to buy your own bathroom.” That shit didn’t even happen in New York, where you can encounter some pretty weird crap while looking for an apartment. Oh well, I need to get back to concentrating on getting a ride here. Sheesh!
And the rides really aren’t forthcoming out here. I’ve been standing here for about 45 minutes and time goes really slow when you’re standing on the side of the road as people zoom by and look at you like you’re a crazed mental patient on the lam. Time when you’re hitchhiking moves like time when you’re in jail and time in jail moves slower than a slug moving in three feet of half-dried cement. And believe me, I know, I’ve been thrown in jail five times, so I’m a little bit of an expert on this subject! Well, I’ve about had it out here. One thing that might have been a mistake was I decided to totally go old school and just use my thumb instead of making up a sign to flash at people. The sign thing worked for John Waters, you can see some of the pictures on the interwebs of him with his signs here and here. I just wanted to get a ride the old fashioned way, with my thumb. In fact I didn’t even wear my glasses because I didn’t want someone recognizing me from the blog to pick me up just for that reason. Now I kind of wish I had brought a sign and I’d be thankful for a fan of the blog to come roaring up, because now I have to turn around and...
Start the long walk of shame back home. I have to admit feeling kind of defeated and depressed because I have no decent ending for this blog. But then just as I’m considering waiting for a semi-truck to come by to jump out in front of to end it all, something miraculous happens...
This car pulls up and someone yells, out, “What the hell are you doing out here?” I approached the driver’s window and...
It’s Maggie Berres! A friend of mine since we were both teenagers! Maggie said she drove by and saw me hitchhiking and turned around to see what the hell I was doing. Well, it looks like Maggie has saved the day and we have our ending here for today’s blog! No, a stranger didn’t give me a ride, but I got an unplanned one and it’s wonderful to see Maggie again. I hadn’t seen her since we last ran into each other at Schnuck’s over a year ago!
Maggie gave me a ride home and it was so great to see her and fun to catch up with her. And Maggie isn’t the first one from her family to be on the MBIP blog. In fact there’s lots of MBIP posts with Maggie-relations on them. Here’s one with her husband Paul, here’s another with Paul and their son Jack (scroll down about 17 pictures to see them), Jack makes another appearance on this post, here’s Maggie’s niece Sam at The Fish House (and an appearance from Amber who gave me the book that started this whole thing) and last but not least here’s Paul and their daughter, Clare (scroll down to the Emack & Bolio’s section for that picture.) So, it’s about time Maggie made it here on an MBIP post! Thanks a ton for the ride, Maggie, you saved the day and hope to see you again soon! We’ll see you all tomorrow!