In general, hitchhiking is seen by society as freeloading and sketchy. Downhill skateboarder or not, you’re just gonna have to accept that. As a skateboarder hitching rides up hills, you’ll probably look dirty from the dust and debris you picked up from that bail you sustained a few runs back while coming in too-hot on that un-banked sweeping right-hander. Bam! Flop! Blood? Yes—it’ll probably be dripping out of ya somewhere. Sweat will most likely adorn your crown and nether regions, making you reminiscent of that chubby kid from 8th grade gym class. On top of that, if it isn’t the first run of the day, you’ll probably smell like three salty/sweet jockstraps. And then stack this on there too: the stigma that society’s placed on that four-wheeled piece of wood under your arm—it tells glossy-eyed, fake-breasted, angry, inbred, soccer-moms that you smoke the devil’s weed and hail Satan. For the sake of time, let’s not even get into what your grimy, skateboarding visage evokes in the minds of police and other drivers who believe they hold authority over everyone. It is said that first impressions are everything, so don’t be surprised when cars just blow by your extended thumb.
On the flip side of the dip, hitchhiking downhill runs reflects one’s ability and desire to interact with the larger community on a grass roots level. If you’re lucky, a driver will remember the days when they once hitchhiked for travel. Maybe a hippie dippy homeboy desires the good karma that comes with helping a shredder in need? Whatever the reason, they possess the character traits to see you’re not the average freeloading dude wearing all the clothes they own and carrying a backpack full of rusty axes. They see through your ruffled hair, your sweat, dirt, and blood to the true road using enthusiast you are who is just out there to have a good time.
Here are a few ways you can improve your hitchhiking odds:
- Park at the bottom of the hill. Although it may seem nice to get a run in instantly, rides may be hard to come by and you don’t want to find that out the hard way.
- Know your hills and which runs harbor “Hitchhiker friendly” drivers.
- Clean yourself up a bit.
- Smile. It helps improve your first impression and may make or break your seat in someone’s vehicle.
- Stand in an area where drivers can see you for a while, enabling them to size you up longer, and better gauge that you are not a hobo baggins.
- Have your helmet and gloves displayed in front of your board. Doing this tells drivers that you’re not totally crazy.
- When someone picks you up, give respect, they deserve it for taking the risk on you. Make sure to make their day better with the little things like asking them about their day, something you may have in common, and finishing up with expressions of gratitude for their service.
- Have faith. Sometimes you’ll have to wait a while.
Just the other day I was hitchhiking a favorite canyon road near my university. I do this at least once a week when I get off work at the coffee shop or am headed home from school—It always surprises me how many runs I can get in a short period of time. Starting at the bottom, I usually demolish 3 runs within thirty minutes—making it the perfect little dose of radical after a long day at the espresso machine, or following a narrow escape from the closeout-barrels of textbooks and lecture halls. Anyways, so I’m sticking my thumb out there the other day with decent distance for scrutiny—clean as I can look after a few runs, skateboard in hand (gloves and helmet displayed in front, and smile on my face)—and a lady full-on slows down. I start to let myself become slightly excited, then the woman simply slows to pass me, windows down, to display her middle finger, making sure I see the discontent on her face, clearly illustrated by her erected central digit. I just waved, and continued smiling for my own satisfaction, this time in hopes to aggravate her irrational points of anger toward me. I thought about this episode for a moment then shrugged it off in a dissonant thought about the path of humanity. Even though I was dissed, I continued to pursue travel up the mountain and soon found a ride with a family coming home from a fishing excursion. We shared names and stories about fishing and overall it was a great ride up the hill. When they dropped me off I thanked them and we were on our ways—them into town, and I down the hill.
Throughout my hitchhiking experience I’ve been picked up by many a hippie, a drunk driver, a dance instructor, movie producer, random friend, surfer, Tokyo drifter, along with two other hitchhikers, with one other hitch hiker in a Mercedes SLK AMG, by moms with their kids, drug dealers, a Baptist minister, pretty girls, yoga instructors, fire dancers, entrepreneurs, by a moped, in the back of a truck, people who don’t speak English, and professors among others I cannot remember just now. Go try it when you have a minute to skate. It’s more fun to skate with a crew of friends, but if riders are unavailable or you just have a little while to skate, hitchhiking happens, and you will be surprised by the kindness and overall raddness of the people you will meet.
Tell us about your hitch hiking experiences in the comments section.