Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The young and the clueless

Something the Barking Spider said triggered kind of an embarrassing memory.

The first time I lived on my own, I was 20 years old and had just moved to Portland. Being new to big-city life, I hadn't gotten out of the habit of picking up hitchhikers. (Of all the myriad times I did, BTW, I never, ever had one that was anything but polite and grateful. In retrospect, I'm a little surprised I never got carjacked. Then again, with my car, what would have been the point?)

I was driving to work one early afternoon, going up 20th toward Belmont (quiet, mostly residential neighborhood), when I saw a woman a few years older than me with her thumb out. Naturally, I pulled over and let her in.

"Where can I drop you?" I asked.

"Well, actually, I'm working."

Did I mention that I was naive? And a hick?

"That's okay, I've got time. Where do you work? I can drop you off."

"No," she said patiently. "I mean I'm working."

Now the little light bulb came on over my head. Even I knew what that meant.

"Ah. I see." Blushing furiously. "Well, I'm not hiring, so maybe I'd better let you get on with it."

I let her out at the next corner. She was really tickled and more than a bit surprised that I had taken her at face value. Thanked me very kindly and waved as I drove away.

Looking back, I should have wondered why she would be hitching at traffic going one direction while walking the opposite way down the sidewalk. But then, what did I know?

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