Thursday, March 22, 2012

The HitchBro Follow Up

I am a super huge fan of reddit. Reddit provides me entertainment, news, and the opportunity to help out those in need. (Ok, mostly I enjoy the rage comics and kittens) So when this guy posted on r/pittsburgh saying he was heading into town and needed a place to stay, I took a look. I watched his uTube videos, poked around his subreddit, and checked out his Facebook page before deciding to offer my home up as a place for him to crash.

He seemed like a cool guy, hitchhiking around the country and using the internet to find him places to crash at night. He also said he was avoiding couchsurfing, which struck me as odd, but who am I to judge.

I texted him while he was trying to get out of Columbus, OH and then on and off again throughout the day as he tried, and failed to escape Ohio (sorry Ohio, I'm from Pennsylvania and I couldn't help but make all sorts of mean jokes at your expense over this poor man's inability to escape your clutches :) Stuck in Ohio, I offer my sympathy and say that were he not a five hour trip to pick up, I'd offer to help. I do, however, look up the addresses of two homeless shelters near him, but he ends up sleeping next to a dumpster.

This, in hindsight, should have tipped me off to his level of unpreparedness. I know others who have travelled sans car, and without a lot of money, and they have all had basic, light weight camping gear for instances just such as this.

The next morning I get a couple of texts very early informing me that he has made it to Wheeling, WV and "Is that close enough"? Close enough for what, I wonder in my mostly asleep daze? Then it hits me, close enough for me to come get him and drive him to Pittsburgh. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I agreed to pick him up but caution that I don't have the car at the moment and I'm not sure when. An hour later he asks if I am coming soon, cause he is falling over from exhaustion...

I am not an expert here, but most people who make their way without a car have plans in place for when they can't get rides, like walking or trying to get a ride. Nope, he was perfectly happy to sit and wait for me to drive to Wheeling and get him. Seems to me a lot more like asking for a favor than hitchhiking, but again, who am I to judge.

I pick him up, and right away he is talkative and pleasant. He also is right away bumming cigarrettes. Somehow I am very much not surprised. We get back home and he plops his stuff in my entryway. Literally, everywhere in the entryway. Houseguest rule #1, ask where you can put your things (and pretty much never assume it is in the space intended to allow people to enter the home). Also, rule #2 should probably be, ask if you can wear your shoes inside. SOME people are wierd about that, kinda like me when I know the shoes in question have walked through thousands of miles of road filth and grossness and wet...

His plans for the evening include meeting another redditor and hanging out. He is perfectly happy to sit on my porch until this other guy gets here and picks him up. There is a problem with that though, I have to leave to pick up my husband from work and, while I may be nice and trusting, I am not nice enough to let a stranger hang out at my house waiting for another stranger to get there while I am not home.

I end up dropping him within relative walking distance of his meet up, with the stranger who turns out doesn't have a car (makes me wonder what the plan would have been if I hadn't given him a ride since he has NO money for public transportation)

I go pick the husband up and drop him off at a thing (not a creepy thing, just not a thing the internet doesn't to know) and then hang out and read my book while I wait for the thing to be over. I get a couple texts from our HitchBro friend saying A) he almost got arrested and B) he is going to need me to come pick him up, because otherwise he would have to walk. Eventually the thing is over and I go get him from downtown.

We come home and he flops on the couch. We chat for a bit, which was nice (like I said, the kid is personable and can hold a conversation) and then we grab some leftovers. He leaves his plate in the living room, which by now is strewn with his things. I repeatedly ask what his plans are for tomorrow, while kindly implying that I have a lot of work to do and we are going out of town so he should really find somewhere else to be, but he can't give an answer. I go to bed assuming he's taken my hundred not so subtle hints and will be out on his own tomorrow.

NOPE. I wake up and he is still there. He's found someone on Reddit to buy him a ticket from Pittsburgh to DC, but not until Friday and he's found a place to stay the night, but they can't get him until after 4. I seriously have work to do, so I get the husband to drive home over lunch and give me the car.

HitchBro is pretty obviously displeased that I'm driving away from my home. He tells me he has an online interview to do, and other assorted internet things to take care of, and doesn't have money. He's not sure where to go since he needs to leach space and WiFi from someone and has nothing to grease the wheels of commerce. I end up giving him three bucks in quarters and dropping him at a coffee place on the South Side with $2 pots of tea.

A few follow up notes to my story:

I spent a good amount of time asking HitchBro questions and I eventually asked why he doesn't save up money to bankroll these trips (ya know, so he can eat and stuff) and he tells me he only goes when he's lost a job and has no money.

Also of notes, there was a whole lot less gratitude for the help he has received, and not just from myself, than I would have expected from someone existing on others charity. Personally, the "thank you's" could be counted on one hand and he did not clean up after himself :( He also very openly talked about using r/assistance and r/randomactsofpizza a lot.

He didn't steal anything that I've noticed and I am obviously still alive, which is all to the good. He also makes conversation easily.

I think if you are going to ask for a lot of help from strangers, they have the right to hear from those who've helped you before. Is some not so stellar house guest behavior, and a lot of gas too much to ask to help a kid with a dream? That's up to you to decide.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you sweet lady for the kindness you and your husband have shown to my son. I have yet to understand his dream, to fully grasp his plan and desire for adventure myself. To say I spend nights terrified for him, is putting it lightly. I am, however, forever amazed and grateful for the kindness of strangers. I promise you he was raised with good ole southern manners. And, as you know, never lacked conversation and vast knowledge. I appreciate the honesty in your blog,having faith in the lessons he has learned as well. I love that boy ~ ~ thank you. THE MOM!

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  2. To the mom, I think what your son is doing is certainly interesting. So often we are taught that strangers=danger, and when we come to believe that we loose the ability to see the good in other people. Everyone is a stranger to us at some point, and if we never met anyone other than our families we would be very lonely people indeed. I'm glad you weren't upset about the criticism. I am a big believer in honest feedback. I feel that honest feedback and criticism is how we become better. It's how you become a better writer, performer, and person. If no one ever tells you how you honestly did, you can only hope to improve by accident. I'm glad to have helped your son explore the world and live his dreams. Dreams are important things to have and follow, and almost always to be encouraged.

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  3. I think maybe you expected more graciousness than you should have. Relying on the kindness of strangers is the condition of this guy's existence. How many people do you know who are truly grateful and thankful for the conditions of their existence?

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  4. Cool of you to add an honest, unbiased account of your interactions. Now you always have a story to tell :)

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  5. As YOUR mom I'd like to say that I am proud of you! You helped a stranger on his path. That being said, if the stranger did not meet your expectations, then the fault lies in your expectations. Common courtesy demands that you not trash another person's home. However, a truly gracious person does not help someone else in order to receive praise and gratefulness. They do it for the act itself. You will forever have the knowledge that wherever this young man finds himself, you have assisted in the best way you could. He has given you an experience that should not be diminished by his lack of thankfulness.

    Again, I am proud of you for opening up your heart and home to a stranger who is clearly searching for something. Keep being you! I love you for the person you are. Continue to be honest as well, it is one of your most amazing qualities.

    The other Mom

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