Thursday, February 10, 2011

Underthinking Hitchhiking

So today I was driving along in a two-seater Ute with my brother-in-law, when we passed 3 goregous female hitchhikers.

(This minus hat) times 3
How is this fair I have paid my dues in the hitchhiking universe, I pick up everyone I see when I am able too. Not one has ever been a female, let a lone a goregous female, and now there were three and I could not pick them up. This is most disappointing.
But it did get me thinking about hitchhikers, and some of the more interesting characters I have ever picked up. For those of you that don't know the word hitchhiker comes from the Latin "Hitch" which means "interesting" and the Greek "hiker" which "people", giving us "hitchhikers = interesting people"  (citation required). So I will give you my top five list of hitch hikers that I have picked up.

I never picked this guy up, but he definitely would make the list.

I will begin by telling you I think some hitchhikers don't deserve to be picked up, if you don't understand where cars can and cannot stop you will never be picked up.
I have seen people hitching at the following places, and I did not pick them up because they have underthought their position.
Blind corners -NO

Motorways - NO

On ramps -NO.
 But there are enough smart hitchikers out there that I have picked up 15 hitchhikers give or take, so without further adeiu the top 5 Hitch hikers.

5/ French horse farrier

For those of you unaware this is a farrier.
 This man is the only man of the list that I didn't get a name, I was early in my hitchhiking chauffeur lifestyle and I blame it on a rookie mistake
So this guy was from France, and a farrier, hence my naming of him. He was one of the first hitchhikers I had ever picked up, so I was new to the whole business. Perhaps it was tale of woe about just being divorced, or maybe just morbid curiosity about his proposed destination that determined my next course of action. I picked this guy up in Dunedin on my way home when  I still lived in the Taieri, but this man told me he was on his way to Milton. MILTON, a french horse farrier that only 3 days into NZ wanted to go to Milton.

Milton's biggest claim to fame is the kink caused by being the main road from either end and not quite meeting in the middle.
So I decided to go all the way to Milton to maybe garner some clues as to why this man was going there, his English was so poor I couldn't ask him, for those of you unaware Milton is a good 20 minutes out of my way, so by the time I got home I had traveled 40 minutes longer than I should have. And you know what? He got out of the car and left and I never did find out what he wanted in Milton, but I do hope his English wasn't so bad he actually meant Milford, although that would have made my detour substantially longer.

Pictured - Not Milton

4/ Nick

The next member of my list, holds the honourable distinction of being the only hitchhiker I have ever picked up with other people in the car. Also the only hitchhiker I have ever picked up standing in a ridiculous place.

Note: Missed the street lighting completely.
My passenger, who incidentally is the mulleted hitchhiker picture earlier, spotted Nick as we were going past, so I slammed on the brakes, and reversed the required 200 metres, to pick up our dear friend Nick. Now Nick had been drinking since 12 noon, the time was now 7 pm, so he was a little under the weather, but he urgently needed to get to Christchurch, and that is where we were going so we picked him up. He seemed alert enough, but when we stopped to pick up my originally planned 3rd passenger (Jeremy), now my fourth, Nick decided to pass out in the back seat, not against the window mind, but on Jeremy.

Similar to this, but Jeremy wasn't working on a presentation

Jeremy's face looked more like this
But Nick was quite well intoxicated so Jeremy had to put up with this for the next three hours, until we managed to rouse Nick, we were now 30 minutes out of Christchurch, we asked Nick where he wanted to be dropped off, he said right here will be fine. Remember I just said we were 30 minutes of Christchurch? So after 15 minutes of convincing Nick he didn't want to be dropped off here (30 minutes for ChCh)

"Okay, from the top, we are here, you want to be dropped at Christchurch marked with red X....."
We finally got a suburb out of Nick "Addington" which was close to where we were going so we took him there.

3/ Des

Des is an interesting case, I based my decision to pick up Des from 2 kilometres away, this should have been my first clue, that I could make him out as a hitchhiker from this distance, he was 6 foot  6 inches tall at least. Getting closer I noticed he was covered in Tattoos, when he hopped in the car I noticed he smelt like alcohol.
I may as well have picked up this guy
I had really picked a winner here. But I decided I would not judge on apperence, and he seemed like a nice enough chap. We got talking and about 40 minutes into the trip I started to realise there was 2-3 years missing from this guys life.

Pictured 2-3 years
That's right this guy had spent time in jail, so I plucked up the courage to ask him what for, turns out he had burnt down a guys block of flats, because the guy had annoyed him. Needless to say I took Des exactly where he wanted to go, and made sure to keep him happy, this included listening to him telling me about how he was planning to get a new tattoo in a very special place.

Here's a clue, this is required apparently, to get this type of tattoo.
But I am here writing this now in my place, so I guess my listening skills paid off, although I am mentally scarred for life.....

2/ Norman

 Funnily enough the top two hitchhikers on my list were picked up in the same weekend, one on the way up to Christchurch, and one on the way home. Number 2 on the list was the return journey, and his name was Norman.

Norman actually looked like Ron Howard, except with shaggier hair
After it was established Norman hadn't been in "Happy days", nor directed "The Da Vinci Code", we got chatting. Whilst we were chatting Norman asked if I minded if he ate lunch, I said no worries mate, expecting him to pull out a sandwich or some takeaways or something.

This is what Norman had.
That's right Norman made a sandwich in my car from raw ingredients, and you not what I didn't particularly mind seeing as my car is a mess anyway, but imagine this could have lead to some conflict in a cleaner mans car.
But the lunch is not what puts Norman at the top of the list, it turns out despite being a shearer in Gore, Norman knows 5 languages which is pretty damn cool. When some one tells you they know 5 languages you normally guess English, Spanish, German, French and maybe Manderin. You know common languages around the world, that would be useful for trade, and also are readily taught in schools. But no Norman had different ideas, he spoke English, Maori, Japanese, Welsh and Mongolian!!
Why does a shearer from Gore speak this combination of languages, is he aware of some impending war were his language skills will come into play?

The Mongolian Invasion of Wales required translators.

By the way, the above Mongolian Yurt is actually in Wales, don't believe me? This website is where I found the picture.
What really impressed me about Norman though, was he learnt the languages by book for 2 months whilst shearing to get a base, and then immerses himself in the culture for 3 months to get fluent, thats right Norman has lived in the countries of  Japan, Mongolia, Wales, and Maori.
I was sad to see him go, but that is the nature of the hitch hiker/ driver relationship short but sweet.

1/ Tony

Finally the number one Hitch hiker on the list. You may be wondering who can be more fun or amazing then all the people I have mentioned above. Let me tell you about Tony, I picked this gentleman up on the outskirts of Dunedin on my way to Christchurch, it was raining, and he put his two giant packs in the back of my car. And then he told me about his life.
The man owns a backpackers in Blenheim, and he uses the backpackers on his orchard. In his spare time he builds home made airplanes, and he was just returning from a conference about this hobby.

Tony assures me his homemade planes are more advanced than this model.
Tony is also an accomplished author, you want of heard of him he writes technical manuals, and textbooks on engineering which he taught himself through his plane building. He hitchhikes up and down NZ throughout the year to get around, and has girlfriends in a lot of major cities and some of the minor ones (I don't necessarily agree with this, but it adds to the cool factor). Over the autumn he plans to sail from Blenheim to Dunedin stopping at all the ports along the way in a homemade boat. I mean seriously is Tony not the coolest man you have ever heard of.

With maybe the exception of Professor Badass (pictured)
So when we stopped in Oamaru for petrol, Tony flirted with the petrol station attendant, before going to MacDonalds coming back with three hamburgers which he had brought for me, and two coffees he got for free. Wait Wait Wait you say how did Tony get free coffees, I mean he is cool, but that doesn't get you free coffee. Yea that is true, but did I not mention Tony is 85 years old!!! I am not making this up, the coolest hitchhiker I ever picked up was 85 years old, and still going strong, hitching around the country living the dream.

Normal 86 year old
Tony (May or not be Tony)


  1. I picked up an "interesting person" in Canada and I have never been more on edge for a half hour than when he was in the car. Fugitive meth-head returning to the town he is wanted in to steal an x-box and his cat and pick up his welfare cheque before hitchhiking back to his town (35 kms away). Just a normal Saturday afternoon for this guy. He also tried to light his Cigarette in the gas station (I didn't want to but absolutely had to stop for gas) he told me he ran somebody over at. Pretty harrowing!

  2. Before assuming that people standing in stupid places dont deserve to be picked up, you may want to think about how they got there in the first place... blind corners yea fair enough but the first ride i ever got picked up as a hitchhiker was from three guys driving a mini-van, who just happened to be Black Power members as well. so after a little hair-raising conversation they ended up dropping me off on the green island off ramp, essentially the midpoint of the southern motorway... with little option of either trying to hitch on the motorway or waiting on the on ramp i decided on the latter and got another ride after an hour or so but yea just sayin..

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