A Small Manifesto on Getting A Sore Thumb

James Kaffenberger


I have met the craziest, most intriguingly ignorant and mythical humans through hitch hiking. Which in reality is a dead art. I say ‘art’, not to sound like a VICE journalist, but because there is some vital knowledge that is lost to the young travelling mind which must be looked for by the individual. So here’s some of that lost knowledge.

To begin with, ask yourself this: are you a bit eccentric? If so, you may struggle. It’s not a problem, just an obstacle that you can overcome. Make your lift as easy and pleasurable as possible. Be calm. Put the driver at ease. Think about the situation from their perspective, would you pick you up? I’ve got into a car and half way through the journey been told, “I’m really happy you’re not a psychopath!”, which is always relieving yet slightly strange to hear. So remember, it’s nice to be nice. Be prepared though, there is a chance you could get into a car with a crazy person.

Patience is a virtue. If there is one thing you learn from hitch hiking, it’s that. The quickest hitch I’ve ever had was under five seconds but I’d rather not mention the longest time it took me to get a lift. It’s just something you’ll have to deal with. It’s part of the whole game. Bring a sleeping bag in case you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and if you have to hitch at night (which I don’t nescessarily advise if you can avoid it): find something reflective and keep going.

Put the driver at ease.Think about the situation from their perspective, would you pick you up? 

The location of your hitch is an essential element as well. Just be sensible, think when looking, and as I said before put your driver at ease. So pick a spot where they can definitely pull up or that you know they will be stopping at, e.g. services, traffic lights or perhaps a lay-by.

Even though I’ve given you this advice, it doesn’t actually  have to be followed. All I can ever write from is my own (male) experience, but let me tell you there is nothing more terrifying and exhilarating than getting into a car with a completely mad person who’s high as a kite. Only then to be taken to Newquay for a night of rum, Guinness, gin and a breakfast the following morning.

So get some cardboard, pack a bag, and hitch home. Then write your own manifesto for the uni paper, I don’t know.