When I was fifteen, my high school environmental science class went on a camping trip somewhere in the middle of nowhere. As an aside, where I grew up and went to school was almost already in the middle of nowhere. We were hormonal and self-involved. Probably stoned, a little drunk, and resolutely free of our familial expectations and bonds. For better or for worse.
It was a three day trip.
My friend and I got freaking bored of the limited supply of steaks and shit beer and of watching the boys compete for our attention.
So we decided to head out on the road.
It was a sunny, chilly fall day. The leaves were all orange. It was a pretty sweet specimen of an Eastern Canadian autumn.
I remember leaving our primo camp. There were beaten down charcoal barbeque boxes and rotten picnic tables. It was a dry, hardscrabble, once muddy pit of pretty much nothing but pockets of gravel. Gravel mining was a key local industry.
So we get to the road and it’s a dinky country road. No shoulder which makes hitching a little scary. There were farm fields on both sides.
We were NOWHERE. And we’re still bored. And we’re telling each other stories about the everything that can go bad while we’re hitching.
We were free. We were also a little titillated because, fifteen and stupid.
We walked for a while. Maybe we smoked a joint, maybe we didn’t. And we were SO bored. Just so bloody bored. A rustic pick-up truck passed us and pulled up ahead. We weren’t really even actively seeking a ride, just hoping.
My friend talked to the driver and I couldn’t really see what she said. She kind of called the shots in our friendship so when she got in I followed.
It was a bench seat – lots of room for the whole family. They talked. I spaced out. Safety first!
Then somehow before we knew it we were back at the entrance of the camp road. We got out.
We weren’t murdered. That was good.
I honestly have no idea how long we were in the truck and where we went. It could have been an hour. It might have been five minutes.
And that was that.
One time, I was trying to hitch a ride. It was a really long wait. I was generally careful not to feel too entitled about getting picked up. But I kind of got used to being successful. And I took my hitching presentation pretty seriously. So when I had to wait for, like, three hours I was getting a little worn down.
And then it started to rain.
I had my backpack with me and I was prepared to set up for the night. But not really; I wanted to put the miles on.
Anyway, I was standing there getting soaked and feeling grumpy and maybe sorry for myself. Then this minivan zoomed around the corner and pulled over. I had to walk-run to catch up to them, which I was pretty wary of doing because people could be assholes. But the driver seemed earnest. I don’t know why I thought that. Whatever.
I was stoked when they didn’t drive away. I had to open the passenger side door and this grey-haired woman was looking very sternly at me.
“Get in!” she barked, and she threw a towel at me. I spent the next 45 minutes getting a lecture and feeling very happy to be in a warm dry vehicle and doing my best not to fall asleep.
And that was that.