Jesus Christ and other Hitchhikers
When I see hitchhikers standing alongside the highway, I feel
for them, because I hitchhiked thousands of miles when I was
younger. I know what it's like to wait for a ride for hours.
But back in my hitchhiking days people still regularly stopped
to give you a ride. Now when my wife and I stop to give a man
a ride, we often hear he was waiting for a day or two.
Jesus Christ waited for two-and-a-half days in Gunnison, Colorado,
before my wife said, "He looks okay," and we pulled
over to the side of Highway 50. He was going to Montana because
God had told him that was where he would be needed. For the first
thirty minutes he was hesitant to tell me his name, but once
he did, and he saw that I wasn't shocked (we've picked up a lot
of hitchhikers), he opened right up, and told us he was THE Jesus
Christ, back on Earth.
Jesus is about five-foot nine-inches, with neatly combed long
hair - a mix of blond and gray. He's sixty-four years old, and
thin, as you might expect after 25 years of being homeless and
traveling. He explained that one eye is slightly larger than
the other due to a brain aneurysm that burst while he was living
on the streets of Tucson six years earlier. His walking stick
has the top carved into a fish head, because, as he told me,
"All the prophets carry a staff." I would have thought
a carpenter would make his own, but he bought the stick.
Jesus drinks water from rivers and sleeps where he finds himself
each evening. As I struggled to put his 60-pound rolling suitcase
in our van, I realized he still likes a few comforts, however.
Next destination? Wherever God sends him. Give him a ride and
he will reward you with hours of bible verses and assurances
that the end times are near - which he seems unusually happy
about. He will be very appreciative if you help him out with
lunch money, so he can, "continue doing my job," as
he puts it.
A month before we met Jesus we picked up a woman who had just
discovered she needed to be in a car to visit a state prison
- no pedestrians allowed. She couldn't walk in the prison gate
to visit her husband, who was locked up for a few years, turned
in by her sister and daughter for some crime she didn't want
to specify. This ride would take her to Pueblo to get a cell
phone so she could track down her usual ride to prison.
A couple months before that we gave a ride to a fifty-five-year-old
man who looked at least ten years older than that. His recent
life consisted of wandering the country, doing some carpentry
work, and otherwise asking people like us for a little money
to go with the free ride. We left him with a bag of food instead.
He and a similar homeless gentleman we picked up a month before
him seemed like genuinely decent people.
Times change, and the typical hitchhiker is not the same as
he or she used to be years ago. Being homeless appears to be
the norm among those traveling by thumb these days. Interestingly,
it seems to be a lifestyle choice. Not one of the many homeless
people we've picked up hitchhiking have problems with alcohol
or drugs (as far as we could tell), and they all have been normal
mentally. Well, unless Jesus wasn't who he said he was.
Most hitchhikers today seem to be decent people who express
no real interest in getting a job, and seem relatively content
or resigned to life on the road and in the parks and shelters
of various towns. I never cared much for jobs myself, so I can
understand the feeling. If this assessment offends anyone, all
I can say is that I am reporting our experience, and we do regularly
pick up hitchhikers.
Pick Them Up Or Not?
Should you stop to pick up a hitchhiker? I can't answer that
for you, but we like to meet new people and help out where we
can. If can advise you to keep your eyes open so you'll know
what you're getting into. Once we pulled over to pick up two
guys in their twenties. As soon as the door was open, a third
friend and his large pregnant German Sheppard appeared from the
bushes near the road. Great company, and the dog was well behaved,
but after a year on the road, they had accumulated a lot of stuff,
most of which ended up tied to the roof of the car.
We had our own luggage, since we were traveling the country.
We were in our Ford Escort, so adding three big guys, a pregnant
German Sheppard and a lot of luggage meant the car didn't want
to stop so easily going down those mountain roads in New Mexico
and Arizona. We were also riding awfully close to the pavement.
It was an adventure. We were also a bit surprised that after
carrying these guys a couple hundred miles, one of them asked
for a couple dollars top buy lunch! I suppose shamelessness pays.
Of course, you never know what you're going to get when you
give a stranger a ride. It could be dangerous too. My wife admits
that she may want to quit helping others. She points out that
we got Jesus last time, and she's worried we might get the devil
himself next time around. Fortunately, we truly haven't met any
bad hitchhikers so far.
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