Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blue

I gave a ride to a drifter named Blue around 7:30 this morning. In his late forties or early fifties, long, thinning blond hair, pale eyes. He wore an army-green greatcoat and carried a vinyl guitar bag and a gym bag with a hard hat hanging on it. Said he was going to Seattle but I couldn't take him that far. He was standing by the on-ramp to Interstate 12 and told me he'd been at that same ramp for 11 hours waiting for a lift, through a night where we had a good hard frost. I think he'll appear in a story of mine somewhere down the line. Hell, if it had been last week when I was off maybe I would have just taken him to Seattle. I've never been.

Hitchhiking must be a hard way to travel these days, and I'm sure movies like The Hitcher, which has just been remade, don't help. I used to hitchhike home from school all the time as a teenager, until I got a motorcycle. We lived six miles outside of town and during football season practice would make me too late for the bus. The bike I had was a dirt bike, though, with big knobby tires. Try riding that on the highway at 50+. Talk about a jarring experience.

What's the point to this post? Don't really have one. I guess I'm still thinking about characters and about where they come from and how to develop them. Lot more thinking to do there.

5 comments:

Michelle's Spell said...

My mother used to pick up hitchhikers all the time -- now it wouldn't be considered all that prudent. I think John Sayles has had some great characters come from that experience -- he used to become a new character for everyone he picked up and eventually made them into a book.

Steve said...

When you won't/can't spend over $400 on a car, you *know* sooner or later, a trip's going to end with you walking.

I grew up with all the hitchhiker warnings on both sides (don't pick up! don't get in!) and did a lot of roadside walking with my thumbs firmly in my pockets.

My first breakdown after I moved to New Zealand, I encountered the oddest damn thing: people pulled over to give me a ride anyway. No one even seemed to suspect that I was a serial killer (and for that I let them live ;-D -couldn't resist the joke)

Now I try to be more trusting like Charles when it's me behind the wheel. I've met a lot of farm kids and some Scottish backpackers.

Sometimes the latest $400 car even gets us all there!

Stewart Sternberg said...

I remember hitching in Detroit as a teen. A car load of rough looking characters pulled up. We stupidly got in, but the ride was fine and the company reasonable. It's sometimes about expectations. Sometimes about risks.

One time I watched a young teen get into a suspicious van and felt my stomach sing. I must have followed that van for a full five miles to make sure she got out safely.

Sidney said...

Almost sounds like he stepped out of a song or that he could be a song.

Tryin' to get back from the Crescent City to those shores of Eliott Bay.

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks for posting folks. On occassion when picking up a hitchhiker I've considered playing a character myself, launching into a fictionalized account of my life. So far I haven't done it but maybe one day I will. Also, by the way, I don't pick up hitchhikers when I have other people in the car with me. It's one thing to take something of a risk for myself, but another to put someone else at potential risk.