The first time I ever hitchhiked was in Lebanon in 1997. I was 25 years old and terrified. I stood on the side of the road in Bsharri (Kahlil Gibran’s hometown), a backpack the size of a golf bag on my back, and stuck out my thumb on a rather deserted stretch of Lebanese asphalt. When a car finally stopped for me (about an hour later), I was as surprised as if I’d hit the lottery. I was also ridiculously excited. But my excitement was short-lived. About 60 seconds into that first ride, the subject of money arose and I was asked to pay a ridiculous amount of money. Seconds later, after I explained that I couldn’t afford to pay that (or any) price, I was promptly let out, less than a half mile from where I’d been picked up.
In any case, today’s prompt has to do with just this: the art of hitchhiking. And how it works is quite simple: envision yourself or a character on the side of the road in the morning, afternoon, evening, or night, with thumb raised (or thumb about to be raised), and tell about the next ride that you or this hitchhiker takes.
Or: just write about anything that hitchhiking brings to mind.
And if you’re looking for more inspiration before you begin writing about hitching a ride, here’s the beginning of South African writer Damon Galgut’s novel The Quarry, in which a hitchhiking incident plays prominently:
Then he came out of the grass at the side of the road and stood without moving. He rocked very gently on his heels. There were blisters on his feet that had come from walking and blisters in his mouth that had come from nothing, except his silence perhaps, and bristles like glass on his chin.
He crossed to a stone that was next to the road and sat. He was there for a while until, apparently without emotion, he bowed his head and wept into his hands. Then he stopped. He looked around. The road was a curve of dust. On either side of it the grasslands stretched flatly away and there wasn’t a solitary tree.
‘Jesus H. Christ,’ said the man.