Like the flip of a coin, or the cool side of the pillow, many things in life are about opposites. In the example of hitchhiking, you can either have an amazing hitch, or a possibly very dangerous situation. I had never hitchhiked in my life and in two days I managed to catch six rides. Of those six rides, the last two were perfect examples of when hitchhiking goes extremely right, and when it can go scarily wrong.
I usually think of life in terms of how it would look in a movie. In the case of this specific hitch, I think an apt description would be a male-buddy-road trip comedy. With myself cast as the tempting lady hitcher, the three boys who picked me up fit their parts perfectly. Nir, the driver, is the strong, silent type. He’s the muscle of the group, coming to the rescue when his friends undoubtedly found themselves in a sticky situation. Matan, he’s the smooth talker, jester of the group. He’s the one that would put the three friends in the aforementioned “sticky situation”. The third buddy, who makes the group complete, is Moshe. Quiet, reserved, he’s usually the butt of Matan’s jokes and the usual recipient of Nir’s protection. The three boys have a friendship that could only have grown out of knowing each other since diapers. The personalities all differ, but they compliment and support each other in the way that is only seen in true and lasting friendship.
Enter the lady hitcher, with her bags still on, her shorts short and her arm extended. The boys pull over and she suggestively leans her head in the window. “Hi!” She says in her upbeat American accent. “Where are you going?”
“Tel Aviv,” Nir responds automatically and monotone.
“Wherever you need to go,” Matan counters with a sly smile. Moshe sits in the back with a sheepish grin on his face.
The girl throws her bag in the trunk and hops in for wild hijinks, bubbling sexual tension, and good times that can only be had by young kids who have little worries and their lives stretched out before them.
That was the good hitch. As the boys and I near closer to Tel Aviv, I say goodbye to them at a bus stop where I can continue on to Jerusalem. From here the movie completely changes genres. The setting is a busy highway intersection with desolate wasteland on either side. The bus stop is lonely. About six people wait for one bus, and then I am left all alone. The afternoon heat is searing, the only shade is the shadow cast behind the bus shelter. I take my two suitcases and sit behind the shelter and wait for my bus to come. I think about maybe sticking out my hand but the intersection is so busy, it seems more of a hassle to weed out the good rides. I wait 5 minutes before the urge to pee is too much too bare. I walk a few feet down and crouch behind one of only a few bushes for cover but am sure most people can see me. I go back to my bags and wait another 15 minutes and very few buses pass. A car pulls up and the window rolls down. I’m sitting on my bags so I have to get up to see if he is trying to ask me for directions. “Jerusalem?” He asks me.
“Yea…” I answer cautiously.
“Jerusalem!” He says more emphatically.
“No, that’s ok, I’ll wait for the bus.”
“Come, I go to Jerusalem.”
People always say you have to go with what your gut tells you. If you have a bad feeling, stick with it. I think something is wrong with my gut because I collected my bags and got in the car. The man, lets call him Bill, because between his broken English and my non-existent Hebrew, I couldn’t catch his name. Bill looked to be orthodox. He had on a white shirt, black pants, large kippa, unruly black beard and side curls. His skin was dark and his face was pockmarked and wrinkled. He showed me his ID to prove his age of 31, but he was an old looking 31 year old. As soon as I got in the car, all signs pointed to NO. The car was clearly not Bill’s. In fact it looked like it belonged to a woman. I could tell this by the blue and white lei wrapped around the gear stick. The car was shitty, broken down and beat up but with a brand new stereo. Like cars that belong to most young kids, they care about how loud their bass is in comparison to how well their car runs. Bill liked bass but he loved trans music. It was this music that he turned louder when I agreed to come in the car. The music was being fed from a USB stick that flashed red light in time with the beat that gave the car a weird club atmosphere. I immediately felt self-conscious about my bare arms and legs and pulled my backpack up to create a flimsy barrier between me and the now spastic dancing Bill. He wagged his finger to the beat and shook his leg uncontrollably; to him this was a good time. To me, I had just let all my friends and family down with the decision to get in this car. At one point I had the opportunity to get out, I even had Bill pull over, but he asked me not to be scared of him. I felt bad. Some people are just weird.
Out of all of this I didn’t feel that he would cause me any harm or want to hurt me. I just felt that he was a really creepy man. I felt a little sorry for him; his love of Torah seemed in extreme contrast for his love of trans music. He appeared to be pulled in two different directions. The desire to serve god and become a Rabbi, and his desire to flirt with pretty little white girls and get down and dirty with club music. I figured by riding in the car I was helping him experience a little of the life that he can’t really grab hold of. For my part I was getting a free ride to Jerusalem. As ominous as the situation started out, the ending was a little comical and anticlimactic. Bill declared his love for me and made me take his number. He then dropped me off at a random bus station on the outskirts of Jerusalem. I had no idea where I was or where I should go. Bill then peeled away in the car, adjusting his kippa and blasting that trans with not even a second look in my direction.