Hitchhiking: Another Time I Felt Stupid


I don’t often feel like an upper-middle class white girl, but when I do, it’s not great. Today was one of those days.

Forgetting things is something I seem to be doing a lot these days–forgetting my keys, forgetting appointments, forgetting to lock the door…the list goes on. And today, I did something dreadfully stupid. I missed my bus.

I take the bus because I have no car, and I have no car because I have no license. I have no license because I am a horrible driver, or so says my family.

Buses come by the hour in Indianapolis, and if I was late again, then they’d surely fire me. I couldn’t call my parents because my phone service was cut off temporarily (new credit card). I didn’t bring my purse because I’m a ‘tard, so no taxi.


So I decided to do what every woman should never do–hitchhike.

If I felt retarded missing my bus, it was nothing compared to standing at 52nd and Pennsylvania, putting up my thumb in hopes that a nice person would take pity on me. At first, I would almost stick it out, like, “Meh. (Shrug.) I might need a ride?” Every time a car would come, I couldn’t help put it down, ashamed. Finally, I accepted my desperation by holding my thumb up proudly.

Car after car passed, and I was close to tears until a white minivan rolled down her window.

“Are you alright?” the driver asked. It was a blonde woman, her tone concerned.

I tried very hard not to let my voice wobble, but I failed. “I missed my bus, is all.”

“Well, come on in. I don’t want you to get in the wrong car.”

I was suddenly aware of how stupid and manipulative I must seem, asking a stranger for a ride. I was not poor. I could get a ride eventually. I felt like apologizing for the hypocrisy of having to take a privileged, private-college girl a ride to work. Instead, I said my thanks. We talked of her children, my school, my work, her snacks in the car. I got the feeling she was judging me, offering advice about a job on campus (“So we don’t have to go through this again,” she was probably thinking.)  I couldn’t really blame her.

She dropped me off at the elementary school, rejected my bus money by saying, “I’ve been fortunate in life. Pay it forward.”

Thank you very much, whoever you are; I fully intend to pay it forward.


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