Note to hitchhiker: Sorry I didn’t stop to pick you up this morning. I realize you are likely harmless, your car didn’t start, and you need to get to work, but you see, I am a woman, driving alone. I can’t take chances on you just to assauge my feelings of guilt for leaving you standing in the dust, looking forlorn and tired in my rearview mirror.
I resent that you may have judged me as aloof or thoughtless as I sped by. I resent that you made me mentally flash through the possible repercussions of picking you up. I did not need to be reminded of my frailties, and my fears. I did for a second consider pulling over, and looked at the seat beside me where you would have sat. Beside me lay my laptop, my purse, my Treo.
I imagined pulling over, and moving these things to make room as you climbed in. I imagined pulling away, and glancing over as you pulled out the boxcutter, and ordered me to pull back over, or to drive down the deserted dirt lane to the left. I imagined the one brief moment when I realized that my thoughtless course of action had begun a series of life altering events, and there was no undo button.
No cavalry was going to charge in, no Indy was going to swing in on a rope and pull me out of the jaws of fate that I had pulled over to admit into my life.
At the very least, I would lose my car, my money, my belongings. At the worst, I could lose my freedom, my bubble of safety, my belief in the veneer of “all is good and fine in the world”, my life.
No ominous background music accompanied this imaginary foray into my starring role in a Steven King novella, just the benign chattering of the Sirius Hits1 morning crew.
As I drove along alone, long after you had dwindled to a barely visible speck behind me, I became angry. Angry at you for having stood at the side of the road, looking dusty and hopeful. Angry at the society in which these thoughts aren’t merely scary fantasy but a stark reality. Angry at my vulnerability.
On that note, I retract my beginning statement. No, I am not sorry. I am a woman, and I drive alone. Call a buddy, or wait for a farmer in a pickup to drive by. Keep your thumb to yourself.