Framing the Dialogue

Hitchhikers Guide

As I drove through yet another snow storm and crappy roads I passed a guy walking along a bridge.  I see this guy nearly every day.  I tend to get to work early so I sit in my car and read the paper.  This guy usually walks by on his way to what I assume is his work.  I probably wouldn’t pay him much attention, but he wears a powder blue North Carolina University jacket and it is very noticeable.  I had thought that he must take a bus and walk from his bus stop to work on the island.  I work on an island that doesn’t have bus service.

Because of three words that I dread, “disabled vehicle blocking” I tried an alternate route.  The roads were bad, the traffic lights were numerous, but the traffic moved ever so slowly.  Interestingly I got behind a bus thus increasing the number of stop/starts by a factor of two.  I was impressed by the folks who took public transportation on days like this (5 inches of new snow, 15 degree temperature, stiff wind).   They are a hardy lot. I prefer the comfort and convenience of my SUV.

As I neared my work destination I saw the NC guy walking across the bridge leading to the road that leads to the bridge to the island where we work. He is not walking on the sidewalk because it has not been shoveled, probably since the start of winter.  Even with the bright blue coat it is still dark at 6:30 am and probably dangerous.   I thought that I should probably offer him a ride, but I didn’t. I don’t know this guy and recent events highlight that there are a fair amount of disturbed people out there.  Would he be stupid enough to get in the car with me?  I could very well be one of the weirdo’s.

I am not feeling nostalgic, but I remember days when people hitchhiked and it was a reasonable alternative to get somewhere.   I remember picking up hitchhikers when I was young and it was not the big of a deal.  What had changed?  I don’t know that there are more crazy people now than 30 years ago.  I guess statistically there would be as populations grow.  My general reaction to people walking along the road is to remember to lock my doors.  I suffer from a car that is unable to lock itself when I start driving.

Sometimes this action makes me feel judgmental; like I am better than them.  We tend to think that our world in less safe, but is it?  Are there more crimes or are more crimes reported?  Maybe we did not hear of all of the incidents because up until fairly recently the news consisted of a half hour of local news followed by 30 minutes of network news during prime time and a local news cast at night which generally was a repeat of the earlier news.

I suspect that there were proportionally just as many killings, robberies, rapes, assaults, and burglaries, but we just didn’t know about them.  There were places where I was told not to drive into when I was young and those places still exist.  We rely on “Tom Tom” or Yahoo for directions rather than real maps and stopping along the road for directions.  We are perhaps more shielded from strangers and are creating a “strange” world.  I don’t necessarily think that we are less safe, but more cautious and perhaps more callous.   Perhaps we live too much in our bubbles.

At this point it really doesn’t matter. I didn’t stop to pick up the stranger.  He probably wouldn’t have gotten in the car with me.  And if I had to do it again would probably make the same decision.  Besides we are in the dark, cold days of winter; where sanity is tested.  I am looking forward to some global warming in a few months (or I like to call it – spring) as I am really tired of the sub-freezing temperatures that we have had for the past two months.

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