The town where I grew up is in the news at the moment – and not for a good reason. Two bodies were found in a forest over the weekend, and the police believe it was a murder/suicide. I’ve just heard that the woman was a tourist, hitch-hiking from a job in the central south island, and that the man had previously been imprisoned for the abduction for sex of a young woman. I shuddered.
Growing up, we lived very close to State Highway 1, and my dad used to occasionally pick up hitch-hikers. He’d come home with stories from Germany, or Canada. There were a lot of Canadian hitch-hikers in the 70s, with their maple leaves proudly displayed on their back-packs, moving up and down SH1.
Fast forward 20 years or so, to a conversation with a younger, British colleague at work. She was horrified that, of our work-group, she was the only one who considered hitch-hiking acceptable. Without asking, she assumed we were raving capitalists who begrudged giving anything for free. But the men said they wouldn’t pick up a single woman, because they didn’t like the way it would look. And I said I wouldn’t do it for anyone. I felt old, surprised that hitch-hiking was still considered an option by younger travellers; after all, by the time the 90s had arrived, we saw very few hitch-hikers on the roads. My colleague didn’t realise that we considered it a risky choice. I only wish that last week, someone had talked to the young Czech tourist the way we then talked with Tish.
You see, I had another reason not to trust anyone offering a friendly lift. And a reason why I would never accept a lift from anyone I didn’t know.
Here’s the entry from my x365 (44 words a day, every day, for a year) with a couple of extra explanatory words: Man in the Red Avenger
I was walking home (from the school bus). His car pulled up alongside.
Man: Do you want a lift?
Man: But I’m going your way.
Man: Well, I can think of better ways to get a sweat up.
Now that comment chills me. Then I didn’t understand.
The next day, I met my first policeman.