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PQs The Hitchhiker

Photography, HMUA, Wardrobe Stylist & Creative Director | Olena Samokhina

Model | Polina Gaydamachenko

Words | Rozwell

DON'T LOOK DANGEROUS. Don’t look dangerous. Smile like it's the best day ever. Now here comes a car. There goes a car. Another one. The boredom can be excruciating. There’s no shoulder, but there’s a stoplight and a steady flow of traffic. My thumb is as big as I can make it. Hitchhiking is one of life's past times , the U.S., is a place notoriously difficult for hitchhiking, it’s supposedly different. Supposedly, we no longer trust each other enough to open our doors to strangers. They say, hitchhiking is dead.

Hitchhiking has indeed declined since its golden age in the 1950s and 1960s. But the tradition lives on in many ways, and Internet networking has breathed sexy connectivity into what was once an inherently lone-wolf activity. Ten minutes is a very short period of time when you’re watching TV or complaining about the weather on Twitter. When your only occupation is to stand on a strip of concrete and stare at commuting traffic, it’s an eternity.

There’s a sort of preemptive guilt in thumbing, as if a sincere internal apology will convince drivers to stop. You’ll do a lot to convince yourself you’re doing more than just giving a thumbs-up to blazing-fast strangers: If you twist your thumb at the right angle, cars will stop. If you smile innocently, cars will stop. If you hold a short-distance sign (“Jeff City”), cars will stop. If you hold a long-distance sign (“Texas”), cars will stop. If you hold no sign at all, cars will stop. If your a woman cars will stop, if your a man travel with a girl to look like a nonthreatening couple, cars will also stop. If you stand a little farther around the bend, cars will stop. If the girl stands in front and takes her warm layers off, cars will stop.

Hitchhiking is where you and your nerves fuse. To constantly try to hook people with transparent facial gestures is to inhale rejection continually. Pretty soon a soul-tiredness comes over me, and my faith in human kindness wanes. Then that crazy thought goes through your mind, I will die here. That wanderlust spirit through hitchhiking practically died in America around the end of the hippie movement.

The crazy thing is if we look at the number of vehicles on the road now; it has more than tripled since 1960. Adjusted for population growth, there are twice as many vehicles now, a fact that theoretically is good for hitchhiking. In reality, it means that cars are now much more the norm. Those who don’t have access to one are the outsiders.

Still, there are signs we’re actually becoming more trusting as a society. Hospitality services have taxi apps like Lyft and Uber which unite strangers for profit. Lyft and Uber, for example, is a service where strangers can pick up other nearby strangers in their personal cars. Both services have exploded in popularity.

Those are alternatives and even can be used as a add-on to hitchhiking in this day and age. One thing I can say is the friendships are transitory, and usually you won’t remember people’s names so much as glimpses of their vehicles and faces. When you get in their cars, you are riding kindness, hitching to the backseats of saints, completely at the mercy of strangers. Nothing is vetted. You’re on your own but for those passing angels. So nevertheless if you are hitching be careful and we will see you at your destination. -PQ

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