Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pros and Cons

Riding my bike on cold winter mornings had me thinking of alternatives. The one that caught me by surprise wasn't the bus. I have a little experience with mass transit. I have even, on rare occasion, taken the family car to work. The choice that I found myself considering was one that I hadn't encountered for decades: Hitchhiking.
When I was a kid, as my parents drove the winding mountain roads to and from civilization, I saw plenty of men and women with their thumbs out, hoping for a ride. My mom wasn't the one who stopped to pick them up. It was my dad who had a sense of community and adventure. I think he was happy to be picking up a little of the hippie life by offering a seat in our Dodge station wagon to some kid and his knapsack. In those days, we lived in a world where plenty of people wanted to get where they were going, but didn't always think it through. Boulder and its surrounding mountain communities were a very inviting destination for youth of the seventies, but with a lot of sharp turns and steep climbs between them and nirvana. That's where the thumb came in handy.
By the time I got my driver's license, the number of hitchhikers had diminished substantially, but I do have a memory of stopping once, while driving my younger brother down the hill to town. We picked up a very fury denizen of the woods who happened to be going in the same direction we were. I'm sure it was a memory of my father's helpful spirit that made me pull over. I got worried looks from my brother, reflecting my own, but when we got into town and dropped our passenger off, there was a collective sigh of relief and we were back on our own.
On the occasional weekday morning, I come across a line of cars parked at the curb near an on ramp. This is the "casual car pool." I see men and women in their business wear dropping into the empty seats of the cars at the front of the line. These wayward commuters are getting a ride across the bridge into San Francisco. The drivers are getting a break on the toll. Without ever having to stick out a thumb. I wonder if any of those inner city cubicle folks were ever part of the hairy generation that we gave rides to once upon a time. I'll keep an eye out for that knapsack with a peace sign on it.

No comments: