Friday, August 15, 2014

Hitchhikers and my deep deep driver's guilt

The first time I hitchhiked I was 17 years old. I was living in Russia and taking part of the social function of Gypsy Cabbing, which is a unofficial system that effectively allows any driver who picks up a hitchhiker to charge them fare for their ride. As I am terribly unskilled in the language of Russian, the only times I gypsy cabbed was with friends, but it was never something that seemed scary or unsafe to me.

After moving to Hawaii I continued to hitchhike when the need arose. I find it a useful mode of transportation, albeit a difficult one at times. I've never felt as though I was at danger, and I am grateful to the people who are willing to stop and pick hikers up; many have helped me get out of transportation tight-spots.

Once you have stood and sweated while you hitchhike on the side of the road, you start to notice hikers when you are in the comfort of your car. As I drive roughly 80 miles a day M/W/Th/F, I find myself passing those with their thumbs out regularly. If I am on my way home from a job and it is day time, I will pick up hikers that I pass, but out of respect for my husband, my parents, and employers, all of whom would lecture me angrily for hours if I did so, I do not pick up men while alone in my car, and I do not pick up anyone at night. These rules cause painful inner monologues of guilt on almost a daily basis while I pass by, and usually I have to actively fight the decision to do a U turn to go back and get the person in need.

One day of recent past while I drove to school, I saw a lone figure standing on the side of the highway, arm outstretched. I had, just weeks before, hiked from that same spot when my car failed me one weekday morning, so I felt instant empathy and compassion for this stranger. As I came closer it began to rain, and my need to pull over and offer a ride became almost impossible to fight, however, I could see clearly this was a male hiker, and thus I knew I could not stop. He had a bundle at his feet, I assumed a backpack, and soon I was passing him, feeling such sadness for this stranger in the rain on the highway. Then I saw his backpack was actually A PUPPY and it was the saddest thing ever

No one who has a puppy could be an evil man! I thought to myself. He's in trouble and needs a lift! I should go back and get him. 
No. I can't. I don't pick up men. 
Now, Melece, the feminist part of my brain spoke up, that doesn't seem fair. That man cannot help that he has both X AND Y chromosomes. Are you going to deny him a simple neighbourly service simply because he was born with more testosterone than you? 
But he could attack me. People would definitely blame me for my own death. The headline would read, "GIRL WITH SEEMINGLY LOW IQ IS MURDERED BY KNOWN AX-MURDERER HITCHHIKER. DEFINITELY HER BAD." Plus, they'd have an awkward picture of me all over the news, and everything good I ever achieved in life would be forgotten and I would be forever the awkward looking girl who invited her murderer into her car.  
Women are murderers too, you know. 
Melece, I KNOW women are murderers too. I'm not stoopid. 
So maybe you should just stop picking up hitchhikers, then, you big fat sexist. 
I don't even pick up hitchhikers that often! I'm not stopping. When I do pick someone up I am helping them. I am SUCH a good person. 
Yeah, you keep telling yourself that, you dummy misandrist. 
You know what? Fine. I'm going to pick up that man and his puppy! 

But then, of course, I had pulled into work by the time this discussion was finished and the man was probably picked up by someone who isn't afraid of men and who loves puppy cuddles.

Peter does confirm that he would scold me if I were to pick up a man, so really what I am being is a good wife and my husband is the one who is sexist and anti-man. Thanks for helping my cognitive dissonance, Peege. You're the best.


  1. I think my favorite part of this is "DEFINITELY HER BAD." I could totally see a newspaper publishing that as a headline (I almost wrote deadline, which would be true for you if you had been murdered). Don't worry; I go through the same inner monologue.