I was told by a middle aged Spanish couple in a petrol station outside Zurich that you can’t hitch in Spain – too many murdering hitchers. I heard similar stories about France (not the ones about stab-happy hitchers, but that people are scared of hitchers). But I just got picked up by a single woman, and I got a several genuine ‘I would take you, but I’m not going that way’ responses too. Sometimes you don’t know if its true, it could just be an excuse. The first night in Berlin it was – there was another guy trying to hitch there too. I told him why I was hitching and he said he was hitching for love too – to put up an exhibition of his late father’s paintings. He was hitching West, and I went South. So when I told him that I’d just asked one couple for a ride and they told me they were going West, he told me, ‘hmm, they just told me they were going South’. Shame. Maybe its nicer that way, better than everyone saying, ‘no, I don’t trust you’. But with the last woman who didn’t take me in Zurich, it was clear it was genuine – she spoke to me, not vice versa. I even said to her ‘wow, would you have taken me, as a woman on your own?’ She said she wouldn’t have taken everyone, but she seemed to be able to judge me pretty quickly (I mean I know I’m not a murderer, just have to persuade everyone else to agree).
This was a good hitch. I asked one woman, and by the time she’d said no, I’d looked down and seen that her baby was taking up the back seat. Then I asked another woman, who agreed to take me to Chamberry. Had to wait roughly 45 seconds.
She was pretty quiet. I kept trying to bring the conversation back to the subject at hand, but it wasn’t working. I was a guest in her car, as I am in all the driver’s cars, and I have to behave like a guest, respecting their space.
She dropped me at the entrance to a pay booth for a toll road. I thought it could have been terrible; although the cars were stopping, I was technically standing on a motorway, and the officials all wore hi-vis jackets. I played out a conversation in my head, in which they asked me to leave, and I explained that was just what I was trying to do.
One person stopped after 2 minutes to tell me I needed to stand four booths further over to be at the right exit, and two minutes later another woman picked me up. She made recipes for supermarkets, and was content with her partner, but still liked the idea of the trip. She had test packets of ready-made pasta in front of the passenger seat, at my feet.
This is getting exciting now, I’m getting close. When I shut pulled my bag out of her car, I had to bend down and share my excitement – ‘I can’t believe it’, I said, peering through to catch her eyes in her rear view mirror -‘I’m really going to get there’. Its going to happen. Fuck.