Monday, 26 May 2008

Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?

Back in the mid 1990s, at my hillwalking peak, I picked up lots of hitchhikers in the Highlands - and hitched myself when I didn't have access to a car. Most hitchers were other young walkers, or foreign students backpacking on a budget, and the A82 - and west coast in general - was always easier to cadge a lift up than the A9 or A93. (At the time I assumed it was because people on the west coast were friendlier.)

I only once picked up a fellow who wasn't perfectly pleasant, a grumpy middle aged man in combat gear, and only once accepted a lift from someone odd - a Free Church minister; although friends have stories of crazily dangerous drivers, or being invited into a stranger's home to 'take a shower'. Most people I've met hitchhiking were pretty interesting, and there have been some real characters, like a Buddhist monk whose acceptance of fate as to whether or not he would get a lift inspired me, or the Skye-based author Alastair Scott.

But I have to tell you that I haven't seen a hitchhiker for years now. Where did they all go? Do young people visiting the Highlands have enough money to get the bus, or are they afraid of hitchhiking? Or am I just heading north at the wrong times? I would really like to know whether or not hitchhiking is a lost art.

4 comments:

Billy said...

Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?

I cut off their legs and ate their livers.

I only once picked up a fellow who wasn't perfectly pleasant, a grumpy middle aged man in combat gear,

Was that the strange guy who thought he was on Mull?

What about that guy that didn't like motorhead? We should have dropped him off at Robert Blacks.

And Wee Frees - mentallers more like!

Robert Craig said...

>>I cut off their legs and ate their livers.

All the more reason for them to hitchhike - they won't be cycling, and you wouldn't want to pay for the extra seat for your dialysis machine if you were on a budget.

>>Was that the strange guy who thought he was on Mull?

No. It was someone weirder.

Billy said...

No. It was someone weirder.

Wow, it doesn't get much weirder than that. That must have been difficult. Did he keep talking abou 7 minute abs?

Robert Craig said...

No. He sat grumpily in his full combat gear (think Michael Ryan) - even his rucksack was camoflagued - and gave a monosyllabic grunt to every question. I gave up trying to talk and put the radio on. Maybe he'd come out the army and was shell shocked or something.


Why is monosyllabic such a long word?