Believe it or not: A hitchhiker in Indiana

My hitchhiker’s karma is drastically unbalanced. I’ve received somewhere between 80-100 rides and I’ve given three, counting the one I gave yesterday.

Normally the hitchhikers we get in these parts of the world look like they’ve been thumbing rides since Vietnam. This fella didn’t. He had a laptop bag, wheeled-luggage, and was wearing an aircast.

I drove by amazed that there was someone standing beside the road to Farmland. That’s right – the city is named Farmland. You might catch a friendly farmer on the way to look at his crops, but chances are you’re not going to get a ride of any distance. It’s a doldrums for hitchin’.

I thought about all of the times I stood alongside a road – mostly in New Zealand, but other times in Hawaii, Australia, Romania, and Bosnia – in the rain and watched car after car pass. It’s the kind of thing that can really make a day crummy and have you lose faith in humanity.

I stopped.

Kenneth is from Alaska. He was visiting his brother in Greenville, Ohio. His brother’s wife is a nut and stole his pain pills he was taking for his torn ACL (tore it working on his bro’s roof). Once the pain pills were done, she stole his wallet. He had enough and was off to Minnesota via Chicago – penniless. A buddy he made in Iraq that saved his life lives in Chicago.

Kenneth has had some bad luck. He drove over an IED in Iraq. He lost a kidney and several feet of intestines. He doesn’t approve of the war in Iraq, but thinks our fight in Afghanistan is worthwhile. I tell him I’m a writer and he tells me he’s thinking about making his journal from Iraq into a book.

Kenneth has had some good luck. His brother – the good one, not the one in Greenville – is a procrastinator. In 2001, he made Kenneth’s family late to the airport. They were off to Cancun, but missed their flight. United 93. Kenneth says that every person on that flight was a hero. That plane was heading for the Whitehouse.

In Minnesota, Kenneth will get his long-time girlfriend and mother of his twin girls and head back to Cordova, Alaska, where he has a home with a back porch overlooking the ocean 50 feet below.

Kenneth says that in Alaska if a police officer sees three cars pass a hitchhiker, the fourth car will get a ticket. The elements and the wildlife of Alaska can be lethal.

Speaking of wildlife, Kenneth has had some close calls.

There are two pods of Orca near where he lives. Kenneth has known the dominant male of the “M-pod” since the whale was not much bigger than my truck. This particular killer whale has swum close enough for Kenneth to pet him from his kayak.

One time Kenneth was riding his motorbike down the highway when a moose stepped out. He drove right between the moose’s legs. The moose’s belly scraped some paint off of his helmet. He was riding one of those low profile “crotch rockets.”

Kenneth makes a living long line fishing. He knows the names of glaciers and has seen them recede some 30 miles. He thinks Hong Kong is a fun city and Japan is a good time, too. When I tell him that I taught SCUBA in Key West for awhile he tell me he has a relative that teaches SCUBA on Marathon Key. When I tell him I did a lot of hitchhiking in New Zealand he tells me that he has family there.

He might rejoin the military. After all, he does have one kidney left.

I buy him a taquito at Taco Bell and leave him at a truck stop. Maybe he can catch a ride to Ft. Wayne or, if he’s lucky, all the way to Chicago. The truckers might take some convincing: A hitchhiker in rural Indiana?

It’s almost unbelievable.

Note: “Sorry I’m late, honey, I picked up a hitchhiker” is not a good excuse to be late for dinner.

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Matt says:

I’ve seen pornos start off that way.

Kelsey says:

I’m sure you have. Leave it to you to got THERE.

Lynne says:

Can’t believe that Annie hasn’t left a comment or two on this subject! I’m pretty sure that she has no other friends whose husbands have used that as an excuse for showing up late for dinner!!

Kelsey says:

Trust me…Annie has made her comments.

Let your voice be heard!