Saturday, March 1, 2014

I'm not a hitchhiker. Honestly, I'm just taking a walk.

As I discussed in my Surprise Visit from the Polar Man blog post, I really enjoy going for walks.  While I may not have had a conversation with a man disguised as a polar bear this time, something else kind of strange happened on one of my recent walks.  Okay, it wasn't that strange.  Rather, it was something that caught me off guard and made me feel kind of weird and uncomfortable.

Let's get on with the story.  The other day, I decided to go for a walk on this beautiful scenic road near my house.  Not caring what I looked like, I dressed strictly for comfort.  That is, I threw on some yoga pants, tennis shoes, and a sweatshirt that says Oakland on it, which I bought on a whim at the Oakland airport because it was freezing.  Then, I threw a black, puffy, unzipped vest on over my sweatshirt for some extra insulation and a grey beanie to keep my ears warm.  I headed out the door.  

In my opinion, I thought I was pulling it off.  That is, I felt that I looked like someone that was going for a walk just for the sake of walking and getting some fresh air.  What didn't occur to me is that I might look like a hitchhiker.

So there I was walking down the road, taking in the gorgeous snow-covered views around me and listening to the latest This American Life podcast through my ear buds, when, suddenly, over Ira Glass' voice, I heard the humming of a car's engine behind me.  The sound was getting louder and closer, and I realized the car was indeed coming to a halt right alongside me.  

Oh great, I thought to myself.  I have gone almost 26 years on this planet without having been raped or kidnapped, and now BOTH of those things are about to happen to me.  

In my panicked state, I looked over to my right to make eye contact with the driver that was pulled over next to me.  The huge, hairy, sweaty rapist man that I was picturing ended up being a sweet old woman with a full head of shoulder-length grey hair.  While I am not the master of age guessing, she looked old enough to be the grandparent of a few 20-year-old's.  She rolled down her window and said with a smile, "Do you need a ride?"  

Taken aback both by her question and the fact that she wasn't a huge, hairy, sweaty rapist man, I paused for a second to process what was happening..  Then I said, "Oh.  Uh.  No.  No thanks."

I thought she would just say, "Okay," and drive off.  But, no.  The old woman persisted and asked, "Are you sure?"  

Feeling slightly annoyed, I replied, "Yeah.  I'm sure.  I'm really just taking a walk.  I need the exercise.  Thanks though!"

The old woman said ,"Okay," before rolling up her window, saying goodbye, and driving off.  It wasn't really an agreeable "okay."  Instead, it was delivered in a tone that said something like, "Suit yourself," or "Good luck with that."

After this event, I thought long and hard about why this woman stopped and asked me if I needed a ride.  Was it my outfit?  Was it the fact that I was just walking and not running?  In the future, do I need to stop going for walks and only go for jogs outside?  Do I need to wear a sign that says "Not a hitchhiker," or would that sign be falsely interpreted as irony, resulting in even more people stopping and offering me a ride?

In the end, at least I didn't get raped or kidnapped.  So, there's that. 


  1. I honestly can't recall the last time I've seen someone hitchhiking. I remember my mom and stepdad picking up a hitchhiker when I was 7-8 years old, but that's the last time I've seen someone doing so outside of movies. I'm a bit surprised someone thought you were trying to hitchhike.

    1. Well, she was old. I'm also short and have a baby face, so there is a chance that she thought I was a lost child.

    2. And I have seen hitchhikers in the last couple of years. My fiance and I actually picked one up once. He wasn't the type you see in the movies. I mean, he wasn't trying to hitch across the country. We were camping, and we saw the man out in the middle of nowhere because his car had broken down. He was miles from his camp site where his family was waiting for him, so we gave him a ride over there.

    3. Also, who knows what this woman thought! I was just having fun with assuming she thought I was a hitchhiker. Now that I think of it, the possibility that she thought I was a lost child is likely more accurate.

    4. Come to think of it, the only time I've ever seen a hitchhiker was when I was in the middle of nowhere (very rural part of Ohio) near a campsite. Perhaps it's just me, though hitchhikers near a campsite is usually how horror movies start.

  2. Next time, make sure you deck yourself out with Lululemon, Nike or UnderArmour logos so people don't get confused Haha. Throw in a sweatband or two for good measure and wear compression tights. ;) But seriously, one time this one person came to a stop beside me in their car and since the runner always seems to be the first victim in any Law & Order episode my first reaction was to sprint away! But they just wanted directions...yay for not becoming a victim!

  3. Ugh, I too suffer from babyface syndrome. I have to wear low-cut tops and full makeup to avoid getting "what grade are you in" looks from total strangers


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