short story by Stewart Terman
(hich’hik’) v -hiked. -hik-ing, -hikes
‘To travel by soliciting free rides along a road—tr. To
solicit or get (a free ride) along a road—hitch’hik’er
REF: The American College Dictionary/Second College
Edition: pg 614’
(pat-ois) n- a regional dialect; ibid pg 910
Hitch hiking is a skill improved with diligent persistence,
that now seems be practiced by fewer individuals, as
people with cars become more wary of picking up
strangers who are standing at the side of the road.
And who’d really blame them..?
I was such a hitch hiker, once picked up by a fortune teller..
Younger, few dollars; needing to get home from Columbus
with the Greyhound company charges a bit higher than I
Colder weather, although the weatherman wasn’t
predicting any snow, with the traffic hustling
north on I-71 as I looked.
My big dreams all fit carefully into a small suitcase; a December
sky with the darkening afternoon as I stood quietly
by the side of the highway
hoping the police didn’t see me.
Nice cars passing by, some with a passenger or two, and
room in most, although none stopped as they headed
home to their suburban dinners.
An hour went by and miraculously an old grey Chevrolet with
an old Black driver slowed down and stopped.
“Where you goin’ boy?” “Cleveland”
“Ok, get in.”
The driver appeared poor, old, and rough looking,
but I was too cold to worry if he was a criminal. He had
a shabby coat and worn shoes, speaking the patois of Superior
Ave. where I’d worked part-time, reassuringly familiar, with
his few kindly words and practical knowledge directed to me.
I thawed out slowly, and it was not until Mansfield that I felt
warm enough to converse a bit, he doing more listening
than speaking, as I told him that I wished
to continue at college, and eventually go to medical
school if my grades allowed, and if I could afford to.
He was 68, looked older, did odd jobs, and lived
in the inner city, near where I’d worked at a
used-car lot for a while as a teen ager in 1963. I was
now 19, in school, and the future unfolding with the
I-271 turn off. “Be snowin’ soon, I’ll getcha home.” His car
going some miles out of his way as he dropped me off
right at my parents’ front door.
I thanked him as I got out, and before he drove off, he turned,
wishing me well; ”..study hard, study hard, you’ll be a good
He seemed to see the future though it was such a long way off.
His advice was freely given along with the ride, both gratefully
accepted, and it was starting to snow just as he knew it would.
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