"One time I picked up this distressed looking old guy who turned out to be a con-artist I think.
I was on the way to Hillsborough from Durham, North Carolina and he was on the on ramp to Highway 85. He claimed his 14-year-old daughter had run off with a 27-year-old carny and that he was an army surgeon who could jump on a flight for $100 at any time. He needed to get that $100 because his daughter stole his money and ditched him at the motel he'd gotten them after he rescued her from the carny. He was all teary and religious and said he'd lose his pension because he'd left without leave and had a surgery the next morning in Annapolis. He said he'd spent like $30,000 trying to find his daughter and finally, she had told him she would come home so he dropped everything to come and get her.
Anyway, he told me various details about the surgery he had coming up and his daughter's situation etc. And I bought it, took him to the airport and gave him $100 that I didn't really have to spend. He said he'd pay me back $1,000 which is what makes me think he was a con-artist trying to appeal to my greed as well as my generosity.
I never heard from him.
A part of me worries he lost his job and ended it all and the whole story was real, but I think it's more likely he played me for a fool.
All the same, I'd rather be the guy who'll take someone at their word in a situation like that, than the guy who doubts and doesn't do what he can. I know I'd feel a lot worse if I had refused to help him since I never found out if his story was true or not."
"I was driving with some friends one day in my home town.
We passed a young guy with his thumb out, we decided to stop and give him a lift. Never did it before, haven't done it since, just FYI. He was very appreciative for the ride, which was short, only a few miles up the road to his place of work. I didn't know the guy but felt good that I'd helped him out, not expecting to ever see him again. Fast forward about a year later, my friends and I went to a keg party out in the woods.
To get there, you had to drive through a field and down a dirt 'road' that was not well maintained -deep ruts and mud puddles the whole way. My car was not equipped for this and of course, got stuck. We left the car and walked to the party, hoping to find a helping hand or two to get my car out. We asked around a bit and eventually are directed to a guy with a truck. After talking to the guy for a few minutes, it dawned on me that this was the same guy I'd given a ride to a year ago. He was willing to help before I brought up our prior meeting, but even more so when he realized who I was. So he used his truck to pull out the same car I'd given him a lift in a year earlier.
How's that for a circle of Karma?"
"A few times, I have picked up hitchhikers, on long business trips usually, because of bordeom.
Most of the time it has gone fine, but one time is memorable.
I was driving from Kansas to Chicago, and at an interchange somewhere was a guy with a pack, hitchhiking. He was heading to Woodstock, from Washington State.
When he first got in, was when the problems started - the smell - how awful - so bad - so much hurt on my nose. Anyhow, I talked to him a bit and he asked how far I was going - Just up to the next exit then heading south was my answer. So I dropped him off at the gas station, went over the hill, turned around, and got back on the highway, with the windows down. The smell lingered most of the rest of the trip.
He was raised as a fairy, in the woods, and hadn't ever taken a bath...EVER...for real. He lived in the woods in makeshift tents and moved around from place to place all his life with like 20-30 other people up in the northwest. He also had no birth certificate or any other documentation... White guy, with dreads, because his hair only went into matted balled up mess anyhow. It just seemed that he hardly ever cut his hair, so all in all, it was a dreadful experience. After that happened, I was very selective of my pickups from then on. But that was in 1999 and I still smell the odor in my memories! UGH!"
"I picked up a guy that was standing outside of a Subway restaurant asking when the bus showed up, at 2 am in a small town in the winter.
I told him not for a very long time and went to get my sandwich. He seemed a bit upset so I asked where he was headed. It turned out to be a very shady part of the city.
Since I was headed that way anyways I told him I would drive him down there.
His story: He was riding around with his friends when they decided that they wanted to go to the casino. He had to work in the morning so he told them to bring him back home. They said no and kept driving, finally dropping him off on the side of the freeway 25+ miles from his home.
We had a very nice conversation about religion and paying it forward, while I had my buck knife tucked under my thigh.
He was nice enough to tell me to drop him off on the corner right off the off ramp before we entered the hood. He thanked me and ran off into the darkness."
"My grandfather once picked up 2 hitchhikers on route 322 in South Jersey. They were trying to go home to Michigan.
My grandfather told them that he would take them all the way there, as they looked at him puzzled. Then he explained he owned a small plane in a nearby airport and he was on his way there right at that moment. He had never been to Michigan before and he thought it would be neat. They thought he was kidding but when they got to the airport they couldn't believe their eyes.
A few hours later they arrived at their destination and the one guy said to the other, 'Wow I have to get a picture of this because no one will ever believe this!' He then pulled out his camera and took a few pictures. Then my grandfather flew home."
"I picked up a guy in the dead of the night, on some back highway in rural Illinois. Anyone who knows this area knows that it usually has heavy foliage and twisting valleys/hills. I was driving the speed limit back home and I see a white flash, off to the right and I swerve slightly to avoid it. I didn't know how close or what it was, but it was bright and looked to be trying to wave me down.
Seeing no lights behind me, I reverse and my reverse lights revealed a guy. The guy looks to be in his early 20's, wearing a white shirt and shorts on a cold spring night and coughing up a storm.
When I get to him he asks for a ride. Sure. Turns out his girlfriend had cheated and stolen his car after pepper spraying him. I let him use my phone and then he told the police to meet him at his parent's place. They said ok and he asked me to take him to a small town about a mile up the road.
He lived in the trailer park and was telling about how he all this happened. A crazy story and somewhat long and detailed but basically she was a known bar crawler (to me at least) who didn't care.
I pulled in to his parent's trailer and there is his car with a busted mirror and windshield. I asked if that was there before and he had a look of anger; The type you get from playing Prince of Persia and can't jump the wall and keep having to try. I let him know he can stay in the car until the cops get there.
The police arrived and approached my vehicle. I rolled down the window and point to him. They asked us to step out. I got small questions and let them know who I am and what happened on my end and what he told me. The other officer was asking if he needed medical attention and if he had any drugs.
Well, about 2 minutes into this, we heard a loud crash and saw glass all over, and then there was screaming and yelling. The cops were not having this jazz and moved to the front door. The door swung open and out came this small stick of a woman. The officer grabbed her and put her against his vehicle. From here it's a 'Who did this?' and 'This person did that' and obscenity central.
In the end, she got hauled off and I think it was assault, grand theft, disorderly conduct, vandalism, and a count or two of drug possession. From what I know now, he went to the military but I don't know if he graduated or any more other than she is on probation."
"I let a guy have a ride from the hospital.
He was a normal looking guy and I had just dropped my husband off at work and he asked if I could give him a ride to the hospital next door. It was less than 5 minutes but would have been a long walk in the over 100-degree weather. I thought it was no big deal.
I let him in and we talked casually and I dropped him off. Then I get this nagging feeling and decide to make sure my wallet was still sitting in the cup holder (where I had forgotten I stuck it). Nope. He stole my wallet. Not only did I lose over $300, because I had just had my baby, I lost the wallet which was a gift from my husband for our first anniversary.
So I called the cops, found the guy and he had given it to someone else from what they could suspect. Apparently, he did this back and forth between hospitals with friends on both sides to hand stuff off to.
And that's how I learned to not give a care about anyone that needs a ride ever again."
"So I was driving home one night in the dark. We lived on the back side of a mountain at the time, which means you had to go up this road with no guard rails and a huge drop-off and then back down. The only thing on top of the mountain was the radio antennas and such, no houses.
So as I as near the top I see I light flickering in the middle of the road. My lights come upon a woman. At first, I think that maybe she's lost or that her car broke down. But no, she tells me that her boyfriend left her up here. Being a gentleman, I say I will run her back to town, because it is like 8 miles back and it's a dangerous road (no shoulder to walk on). As she gets into the car I realize that she is not some poor girlfriend in a fight with the boyfriend, she is a 'girlfriend for the night'. So I text my wife: 'I think I just picked up a hooker on our road.' My wife just sends me a '?' text back. I said that I would tell her when I got home.
As I turn the car around and head back, this woman is telling all kinds of weird stuff about her childhood, a lost child, how her boyfriend stole her check...nothing I want to hear. Then she says that they were up on the look out, aka where the high school kids go after their dates. I happen to know from the kid next door, that the kids don't go up there anymore, cause they got caught too many times up there by the cops. So this sounds suspicious to me. And then she says that her 'boyfriend' left in such a hurry while fighting that he took her shirt, she had a jacket on that she was holding together. I say I got one in the back seat, you can have. As I reach in my back seat to get her this t-shirt, I notice that this 'woman' has an Adam's apple the size of a walnut under her chin.
So now I really want to get away from the person, she smells, it has gotten weird and I don't want any part of this. So as we get to the first gas station, I pull in and say this is as far as I go. 'She' gives another story or two, and I'm trying to be nice but she won't shut up or get out, now I am freaking out.
Thankfully I see the town cop pull up, so I offer to get out and buy her a coke and new pack of cigs. As I get out I walk over to the cop and start explaining the situation, he looks over my shoulder and goes: 'Oh yeah that's Frank, we pick him up about once a month.'
I say, 'Well can you get Frank out of my car.'
The cop goes over, Frank gets out as he comes near, and the cop tells him to get in the car, which he does and they just drive off. My wife stills brings up the story, every time we pass a hitchhiker."
"I was 19 at the time and I was headed to visit my mom from college. Well, there was an older man carrying a guitar and a backpack on the highway on the ramp with his thumb out.
I still have no idea what possessed me to stop, but I did.
He put his guitar in the back and got in. The first thing he said was, 'Thank you!' So I asked where he was headed and it ended up being on my way, so off we went. I'm a pretty shy person but he was super friendly and easy to talk to. He introduced himself and started in about his story.
Basically, he had a rough life and had been diagnosed with Hepatitis sometime earlier and decided to spend the remainder of his life traveling. He told me all about the last few months: where he had been and who he had met. It was an incredible story.
Anyway, I happened upon him at the end of his journey. I was bringing him to a town where he had some family left and he was planning to stay there until his disease took him. When I dropped him off I wished him luck on the remainder of his journey and he reminded me that he was at the end.
I thought about him a lot for a while after and I've always been sad I didn't get more than his first name so I might have found out what happened to him."
"I picked up a dude in dreadlocks and a tie dye shirt. His name was Dusty. This dude was a full on hippie and was hitchhiking from California to Virginia, for the rainbow gathering.
I was on my way home for summer break from college and gave him a two-hour ride west to my house. When we got to my house he refused to stay indoors and camped with a make shift tent in the woods behind my house for three days. We partied at night with my friends when I got off work. On the third day, he said he was going to keep on his travels.
Apparently, while I was at work, he had hand carved me a pipe. The dude was nuts but had some good stories!"
"This past November I was on post deployment leave and driving through backwoods central Florida to Orlando. It was about 10: 30 at night and I was on my way to pick my brother up from the airport for a couple days of Disney World and Universal Studios.
I am out in a rural area when I see an SUV pulled off on the side of the road. It was at an angle that made me think the driver did not plan on pulling over. I didn't see anybody around it, though, so I kept driving.
About half a mile I barely see two figures walking along the road as I pass by. I just knew it was the SUV owners. I pulled over, hopped out of my car, and asked if they needed any help. They said yes and were super grateful.
It was a man and his wife. He was a contractor working on some resort out there. He had gotten off too late to cash in his paycheck, and they didn't have any money for gas. There are various stores that can cash checks, but in Florida, after a certain time, they cannot cash any check with a value over $999. His paycheck was more than that, and so they were stranded penniless until the next day.
They just asked me to take them to a gas station in town about 5 miles down the road, so they could try and figure out a way to not leave their car abandoned along the road overnight. We chit chat along the way. They find out I'm a Marine back from deployment, picking up my brother etc. From talking to them in the car I got the feeling they were genuinely good people just a little down on their luck.
I should mention that I was already running a little late to pick up my brother, so I was a bit anxious to press on. However, when I saw them walking into the gas station my heart ached. They just looked broken and tired. I thought to myself: 'You know, it would take absolutely nothing for me to help them out. What would it take? $20? That's fucking nothing compared to what they would get out of it.'
So I rolled down the window and called them back over. I offered to buy them 5 gallons of gas so they could manage themselves until the husband can cash his check. They looked a little uncertain about it but accepted.
I'm sure there is some loss of pride when someone 10-20 years younger than you offers to help you out a bit in a financial manner, but they were at wit's end and I could see they just wanted to be home.
The guy says they have a gas can in their trailer, which is just 5 minutes from where we were. They get back in and I drive through a little rundown trailerpark to the very back, where he hops out, grabs the can, throws it in my trunk, and we head back to the gas station.
I put around $20 worth into it, and then we head back out of town towards where their car was. I hold the flashlight as the husband fills up their car. The wife seemed relieved they didn't get a ticket for anything and that nobody seems to have inspected their vehicle.
Anyways once they get it turned on, they come over. He gives me a handshake and she gives me a big hug (and here is what really got to me) and she tells me that I restored her faith in people, because it would have been so easy to just drive on by, but I stopped and helped them for no reason other than I wanted to. She said she didn't think people would have done that anymore, and that she was happy to have been able to meet me.
I followed them back into town and then continued on my way. They gave me honks and waves as they pulled over towards the trailer park.
I thought about the whole thing in silence for a while as I drove. I felt a sort of relief and was blown away by how easy it was to make a positive impact in the lives of a couple of strangers. I lost about 40 minutes and $20 helping them and was late to picking up my brother at the airport because of it, but I felt it was absolutely worth it.
It really made me think about the person I am and the person I want to be.
I kinda wish I had gotten their phone number or something. I wouldn't mind saying hello and asking them how they are doing these days."
"I picked up a hitchhiker and I remember it well.
It was the night that the last Harry Potter book was released and I was on my way from work to go get it and I saw a business looking man walking down the street trying to get peoples attention, so I pull over to see what is up.
He explains to me that his wife and him had gotten into an argument and she told him to walk home. He said that he just needed to go a couple miles down the road so I figured what the heck? The drive was literally less than 10 minutes and when we got near his destination, he told me to pull into a gas station and pull up to a pump.
He then filled my tank which was almost empty and when he came back out he gave me like $60 dollars which I think was a chunk of change from the $100 he used to pay for the gas. I then took him the last like 30 seconds home and he thanked me for picking him up and that was that.
I normally do not advocate picking up random people but I live in a nicer area and he looked like a business man in a nice suit so I figured why not?"
"I was driving through Utah after the SEMA convention was over with and stopped at a Texaco.
I walk in, get a drink, pay the bill for gas and walk out. Some guy is standing outside and asks me if I could give him a ride up the road to his house. Mind you, 'up the road' turned out to be 8 miles of highway. I'm in no rush so I don't see a problem. We get to his house, he gets out and says: 'If you're in a hurry, then thank you for the ride I really appreciate it. But if you're not, then I'm having a party here in a few minutes, you're more than welcome to join.' I ponder it and decide I might as well. I can afford another day.
This guy wasn't joking. 50+ people and I don't even know how much the cost of booze altogether. Let alone the drugs.
Needless to say, I got home a day later than expected."
"I was leaving a gas station a few days before Christmas a few years ago, it was cold and drizzling. This random dude asked for a ride down the street to get home. I figure, 'What the heck, I'm carrying, it's freakin' freezing, the dude is tiny anyway, it's a short trip, I'm not in a hurry, and it's almost Christmas. I'll give him a lift.'
We got a mile or so down the road to a Walmart right next to where he's going and I pulled in. Well, he saw some cops who were waiting around and doing their 'talking while watching for traffic violations' thing and said: 'No no no! Not here. Go down the road a bit.' At that point, I was immediately on red alert. I told him ok, drove another block down the road to another gas station and told him to get out. He did get out, no problem, and I left in a hurry.
I headed back to the gas station that I picked this guy up from and saw like four cop cars there with cops out searching around the side of the building and bushes where this guy was waiting when I picked him up.
My best guess: I helped some dude run from the cops. I just kept on driving without slowing down and made a mental resolution to never pickup another hitchhiker again, and I never have."