Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hitchhiker

Yesterday my friend and fellow blogger Bugsy wrote about his recent experience giving a lift to a hitchhiker. This reminded me of the one and only time I did the same thing, but with a drastically different outcome.

Let me preface this story by saying that I realize it can be unsafe to pick up hitchhikers. It is not a routine practice of mine, but as the story will show, I felt badly for the person because it was beginning to rain. The optimist in me does not like to view the world of mankind as potential criminals, but the realist in me understands the need for extreme caution when dealing with people who could take advantage.

Now, on with my hitchhiker story.

About 16 years ago I was driving home from work and passed a commuter parking lot.
Federal government employees who lived in my suburb commonly parked there and rode the buses into the city. It had just begun to drizzle when I saw a man in a black suit, white shirt, and black tie walking along the road in front of the commuter parking lot, carrying a briefcase.

My 1st thought was: "Uh oh. I bet this guy got off the bus to find he'd left his lights on this morning and now his battery is dead."

My 2nd thought was: "Or, this guy's ride home hasn't shown up yet, and now its starting to rain."

Both thoughts caused me to pity the hard working guy whose suit would likely be ruined if he had to walk all the way home (wherever that was) in the rain.

My 3rd thought was: "I should offer him a ride. Its the kind thing to do." He was wearing a suit and carrying a brief case. He was likely a federal government employee who rides the bus to work. How scary or harmful could he be? So I pulled onto the shoulder and put down the passenger window as he approached the car.

"Would you like a lift?" I asked.

"Yes, thanks!" he replied as he got in and put the seat belt on.

"I didn't know it was going to rain today" I said, to put him at ease about being caught without an umbrella.

"Me neither" he replied.

"Where can I drop you?" I inquired.

"Over near the Hechinger store" he responded.

"Great" I replied. "I'm headed that way myself."

Now that he was in the car I was able to see him more clearly and noticed he wasn't actually wearing a black suit. He had on black denim jeans and a black, slightly tattered sports jacket. The 2 blacks didn't exactly match. Then I noticed that he wasn't wearing dress shoes, but rather, black suede lace-up sneakers. Although slightly odd, I reasoned that perhaps he was a lower grade federal employee who didn't need to wear an actual suit or dress shoes to work.

Then I noticed his brief case was badly nicked and scraped, as if only it had survived a plane crash. All these little oddities made me begin to wonder whether or not he was actually a federal employee at all, so I decided to ask him in a casual way, as if I was just making conversation.

"So, you work for the government?" I asked.

"No" was his succinct reply.

"Do you work downtown?" I asked again.

"No" he replied again. I felt my heartbeat quicken a little as I realized that all my initial assumptions about him were wrong.

"I'm just asking because I saw you in front of the commuter parking lot and I figured you must have gotten off the bus a few minutes ago. Since it was beginning to rain, I thought I'd see if I could give you a lift" I offered.

No response.

We drove on for a couple minutes in silence and discomfort. I considered turning on the radio to ease the tension, but thought that might make me appear a little rude so I didn't. Then he finally began to speak.

"Do you live near the Hechinger?" he asked.

"Yes" I responded. I hoped that maybe he was warming up and was now ready for a little casual conversation.

"Where abouts?" he inquired.

"Off Occoquan Rd" I replied, wondering why he all the sudden wanted to know so much about me. Since Occoquan Rd was long, it had many single family homes, townhomes, and condos off of it, so I hadn't really told him much. There was silence again for a moment, as he gathered his courage.

"Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to... to be with another guy. You know, to feel what another guy feels like. Do you ever wonder about that?"

I should probably point out that I was not 'out' at this time, although I knew inside that I was gay. I'd never been spoken to in this way before, much less from a complete stranger I had literally picked up off the street, and it made me very uncomfortable. Not only was he not a federal employee, he apparently was not abreast of the etiquette one should observe when talking to strangers. Call me old fashioned, but I was not expecting to hear this guy's sexual fantasies while rescuing him and his 'suit' from the rain.

So I decided to lie.

"Um, no, I've never wondered about that" I said back to him.

Silence again. I felt relieved. Then he tried again.

"Would you mind if I put my hand on your leg? Just to see what it would feel like to touch another guy's leg" he asked.

Not taking my eyes off the road ahead of me I said "Yes I would mind." By this time we were nearly at the Hechinger, so I changed the subject and said "We're almost at the Hechinger. Where would you like me to drop you off?"

I expected him to give me directions to turn right or left and would indicate the neighborhood where he was going. But instead, he simply answered "The parking lot." After the awkward conversation we'd just had I was not about to question why he'd want to be dropped off in the parking lot of a closed store in the rain. Maybe I was afraid he'd actually have an answer. So I just put on my turn signal, turned into the parking lot, and stopped the car.

As he undid his seat belt he said "I hope I didn't freak you out by asking you those questions." Since he paused I felt obliged to respond.

"That's okay."

"Thanks for the ride" he said as he got out of the car.

"No problem. Stay dry." I suggested, which immediately seemed like a ridiculous thing to say, since I had just dropped him off in the parking lot of a vacant store in the rain.

As I drove the few blocks to my home I felt both scared and excited at the same time.

I was scared at just how wrong I'd been when sizing him up as a federal employee whose battery was dead or whose ride had not shown up. Obviously he was nothing of the sort. I had no idea what he was or what he did.

But I was also excited that there were indeed others out there like me who 'wondered what it would be like to be with another man'. I didn't feel quite so alone.

Whether he sensed I was gay or would have asked the same questions of a straight guy - I don't know. But he had the courage to talk about his feelings (all be they inappropriate for the situation), which was something I had not yet done. I couldn't tell if he was mentally unbalanced or not, but I admired his courage.

I never saw him again, but I'll never forget him.

Crush du Jour: Jason Lezak

7 comments:

seriouslyflippant said...

John, meet Trick.

Trick, this is John.

Lewis said...

Don't you ever wonder what may, or may not, have happened if you'd said, "No, I don't mind.....". Whoooppeee! Maybe he would have asked for a $50 bill on the nightstand at the end of the evening.

cb said...

You must have SERIOUSLY been setting off his 'dar! heh heh :-)

Oh, and by the way? Jason Lezak is MINE!

Bugsy said...

These are the times that I think someone or something is trying to tell you something.

You seemed to have heard?

And yes, it is a dangerous thing to pick up hitchhikers, but there's always exceptions!

Loved the story.

Shirley Heezgay! said...

i have that porn, but it ends very differently.

RAD said...

Great stroy-- I would remember it always too....Love that feeling of being excited and scared at the same time....Love the crush....I was tryiing to find a good pic of Jason yesterday to post as well.....GREAT CHEST!!!

Thomas said...

A rather exciting and creepy story all in one. Glad you ended with a Jason Lezak photo - I'm a fan as well. see my blog.