I have decided to describe some of the types of people who have picked me up while hitch-hiking, for those of you who haven't hitched before to get a better understanding of the types that are willing to let a strange man into their car for no compensation*. These are all real people who have picked me up in the past, I'll try to keep them in chronological order.
1. A middle-aged man with a crying baby in the backseat. I realized I had left my wallet with the friend who dropped me off at my hitch-hike point, since I fell asleep on the way to the hitch hike point I had no idea what direction to go in, all I had was a vague description of a beach near the house. It was also confusing because he drove about 20 minutes to a point he thought would be good and then changed his mind, drove back and dropped me off at an alternative spot. After driving around for ~1 hr describing the beach to dozens of people we finally found the location. It was a 2 minute drive from where the man had picked me up. He wasn't angry at all because his baby fell asleep during the car ride and I got my wallet back, nothing really outstanding about this guy, just very patient and altruistic.
2. An old man of around 75 years old in a beat up old car only headed 10km down the road, dropped me off at a bus stop. Trusting and kind for his age.
3. A young man of ~25 who offered me a ride and $50 if I allowed him to suck MY dick. I was confused and had to have him repeat his offer several times, because I always thought it was the other way around, I declined his offer out of pure homophobia, looking back I think that was one of the most generous offers I've ever been handed in my life.
4. Surfing guy, covered in zinc for sun protection, nice fellow.
5. Older, squat fellow with a bald head and unsightly teeth, he had a camper van that he was sleeping out of and traveling Australia with. I slept for most of the car ride and when we awoke in the town of Bega he asked "Wanna sleep with us tonight?" in his fast, aussie accent. I had no idea who "us" was or where they were located, I said "yes" before I could think about it. After answering him I started going over all the ways this man was most likely going to kill me and what he would do with me before-hand, I really started getting nervous once we got off the main road and started heading for about 20 minutes down a dirt path.
We pulled up to a small bungalow and went around back, there was a couple grilling meat with some kids running around, I was offered a beer. "Us" referred to himself, his brother and his brother's family. I got a free meal, beer and watched Year 1 with the kids, slept in the camper on my own and left the next morning.
6. Religious man and his daughter. He was some form of pastor who talked a lot, really nice guy but kept pushing his beliefs on me. His daughter had the Australian equivalent of an L, which I believe was a P or something and he had her driving, I was really quite afraid because she was a horrible driver and the dad kept distracting to her to back up his claims. Some of the things he told me were that it was God's will that the allies won World War II, and he gave me a bunch of proof (which I have yet to check if it was accurate) involving weather and other such nonsense that favored the allies. Another thing he told me, which is kind of strange considering recent events, was that Australia had been going through a 10 year drought (started in 2000) but it would end at the end of 2011 and Australia would get record rainfalls. This claim had nothing to do with God but he said that a trust-worthy geologist predicted it, guess he was right. Anyway he invited me to join them for a sermon or some nonsense, I quickly refused and thanked him for the ride.
7. An elderly couple heading for their vacation home, very nice, no real interesting story here.
8. A young man driving 2 of his female friends home from some form of event, I was offered a place to crash by one of the friend's, I stayed at her place for 3 nights and got tons of free food and beer, one of the nicest people I've ever met, showed me koalas and fairy penguins as well.
9. A truck driver who told me most "truckees" don't pick up hitch hikers because they're scared the hitch hikers will want to sleep in the small cot behind the seats. He offered me a house to stay in in Melbourne but I already had a place to go to.
10. A very nice gay man gave me a ride from Aldergrove to Kelowna after asking if I was sane. He installed car sunroofs and condoned steroid use, he thought working out was a waste of time if not aided by steroids, nice guy.
11. A polish immigrant gave me a ride back from Kelowna and told me how he literally had to flee his country, like jump fences and escape in the night and then spend a year in a camp in Italy before being allowed into Canada. Came into the country with nothing but now owns a successful furniture building company, good example of coming from nothing and creating success.
12. An elderly English gentleman in a Jaguar gave me a ride from Aldergrove to Kelowna, probably the nicest car I've hitched in. He owned a radio station and a TV station and a bunch of other stuff, real entrepreneur, also built himself up from nothing. He had some good stories, he worked as a radio DJ in Winnepeg and would request blondes meet him behind the building after the show, on-air, he said it never failed. He also told a story of crashing into 2 separate police cars, in 2 separate incidences in one night. Classic.
13. A Christian family in their RV. They had 7 kids. I got to sit in the captain seat, they fed me roast beef sandwiches and we listened to sermons on the tape-deck. I also checked out some spiralling tunnels up near Banff with them, I totally felt like part of the family, really nice people.
14. A young hippie girl with dreadlocks, she drove a VW beatle and had awful BO. She told me to WOOF (volunteer work/farming in exchange for food and a place to stay). She was very trusting though, it's somewhat rare for a single girl to pick up a hitch hiker, I guess it's dangerous.
15. A native man named Marlen. He told me he was a compulsive gambler, lost his family due to drinking/drug problems, kicked all of his habits except gambling. He stayed up all night before in a casino and on the way up to Edmonton, from Calgary, he was trying to persuade me to join him in Red Deer for a night of gambling, I didn't want to stay in Red Deer so I convinced him that the right thing to do was to drive straight through to Edmonton. He told me that he had seen a double rainbow recently (this was days after the popular youtube of a similar title was released) I asked him if it was amazing and he confessed that it was.
16. A woman with a broken wrist picked me up outside of Edmonton. She took me to what appeared to be a perfect hitch hike spot. 2 Gas Stations and 2 Truck stops, you can hit up people filling their vehicles and ask truckers. People looked at me like I wanted to kill them and then a gas station attendee told me that I was soliciting on private property and told me he would call the police if I don't leave (I think he did call the police because they showed up not long after). In reality my approach was this:
Walk up to person with a big smile.
Ask "Hey how's it going? mind if I ask which direction your headed?" (I asked the direction because if I ask "hey are you going east?" they always said "no" 100%, without fail, they would deny it)
If they said East I would just kindly ask if I could join them, when they declined I just smiled and said "no problem have a nice day!"
Apparently this type of behavior is totally unacceptable in our society and requires the intervention of police units, thank god for those guys!
That day I waited 9 hours for a ride, asked countless truck drivers and people for rides and tried sitting on the road with a sign. I gave up and a city-surveyor who saw the whole deal gave me a ride back to Edmonton. Caught a ride to Calgary with a new found friend the next day.
17. A younger physics teacher from Medicine Hat. While walking down the highway headed East out of Calgary I got a ticket from some police officers for having my thumb out, it was for $25. I tore it up. I then walked for around 2 or 3 hours, basically until Calgary was out of site. That's when I got picked up by the physics teacher, we discussed travel, had a very similar taste in music and he even talked about some string theory. I realized I'm a moron.
18. I was dropped off at a gas station in Medicine Hat by a construction worker, on the way from where he picked me up to the gas station I counted 3 hitch hikers (in a 10 minute drive), one of them being seated right in front of the gas station. I started asking the people filling their tanks, same old story, people looking at me like I wanted their blood and then the gas station attendant telling me to leave. I talked to the dude sitting on the road for a bit, he was headed to montreal as well, I wish him luck and started walking East, since I was the last to show up I thought it was moral to take the place farthest down the road.
I walked for maybe 45 minutes with my massive "MONTREAL" sign behind my shoulders for drivers to see. I decided to stop for a bit and drink some water (I kept a 4L jug filled with water before I left, very crucial). I then see an old Mazda covered in old fruit swerving from the inside lane up to the shoulder. I ran up to them and asked my usual "hey, where you guys headed?". It was a guy and a girl, both with shoulder length hair, I noticed the fruits on the car were cherries, they were about 20 years old. The guy answered "Montreal". I was pretty much speechless, "Wait, so you guys are going from here, to montreal? And you're willing to take me with you?..."
"uhhh yeah man". Luckiest hitch hiking moment ever.
Anyway to cap it up, the types of people who are trusting enough to pick up a stranger from the side of the road really come from all walks of life, but the one similarity I found is that they're all positive people, always smiling, I think there might be a correlation between people who trust their fellow man and people who are happy. And I'd say the best advice is to never get angry or frustrated, if you don't allow yourself to get into those negative thought-loops nothing can go wrong, even if shit is bad from an outsiders perspective if it isn't affecting you negatively on an internal level it actually isn't bad. At around the 8 hour mark of that day in Edmonton I actually started laughing at how ridiculous it was that people were totally refusing to pick me up, turns out it was for the better, I never would have gotten that ride from Medicine Hat and could have ended up taking weeks to get through Ontario (which is usually the case.)