The Hitchhiker's Guide to Humanity

Finding comfort in stories of strangers

| July/August 2001

REAL TRIPS SECTION

Real Travel
-Joe Robinson

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Humanity
-Cindy Ovenrack

Dream Vacations
-Andy Steiner

(print only) Thailand On 500 Baht A Day
-Decca Aitkenhead

Please Stay Home
-Karen Olson

Let’s Go—Podunk
-Jon Spayde

Rough Guide To Your Own Backyard
-Chris Dodge

(print only) I Disagreed
-Christopher Reid

(print only) Globetrotter Dogma
-Bruce Northam

Road Reads
Utne Staff



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I am a little afraid of people these days. Of people being intolerant and not knowing how to work with other folks without compromising their own politics. I ran away a few weeks ago, hit the freeway in Portland, Oregon, with my dog, my backpack, a pair of shorts, two hats, dog food, and my taxes, which I never bothered to do. The guy who picked me up was coming from Alaska, heading back to Texas. His best friend had just died and his dog was dying too.

We got to be really good friends in two days of traveling, and his dog started to get better and play with my dog, and the whole thing was just what I needed. Some stranger buying me breakfast because I didn’t have any money and listening to my stories about my friendswanting to kill my other friends and all that and not thinking I’m totally crazy. I’m not sure how to tell you exactly. It was encouraging. Especially since the last time I hitched, this gross man was trying to feel me up the whole time.

There was this other time when I was hitching in Vermont and this guy picked me up. He was an environmentalist. That’s what he did for a living. Tested the levels of toxicity in landfills and tried to figure out how to manage them better. I worked at the Institute for Social Ecology at the time, so I was telling him about the need to change the whole base of society, create new ethics, get rid of hierarchy altogether, re-create community, and see ourselves as part of nature rather than it being a tool to manage. And he kind of flipped, but in a good way. He didn’t know other people thought like that. He knew that lifestyle change wasn’t enough, that new and better landfills wasn’t enough, and that there was no way to make corporations be environmental in this crazy capitalist society. He took me out to dinner and told me about growing up in El Salvador when it was a military dictatorship, and how he got arrested for addressing a police officer informally and about having a gun put to his head to make him sign his release papers and getting sent right back to his jail cell. People were 'disappeared' a lot then, but they eventually let him go for some reason, and told him if they ever saw him again they’d kill him. So he left the country. He said he hadn’t talked about it in seven years. He cried.

From Doris (#17). Send $1.50 or $1 plus two stamps per issue to Box 1734, Asheville, NC 28802.

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