I did something risky and I think God made me do it.
A few months ago, I was driving with my son and he randomly asked me about hitchhiking. “Mom, isn’t hitchhiking a really bad idea?” I emphatically answered, “Yes! It’s very dangerous”. He had watched a YouTube video where someone was hitchhiking and some crazy thing happened to them, so he thought to bring it up to me. He then brought up the story I’d told him awhile back of the last time I hitchhiked. I was 19 and took a ride from a man around 60. I’d told him where I was going and we drove off. A minute later, I realized this guy was sketchy. I just a felt a bad vibe from him. A “knowing”. We happened to pass my friend walking down along the road, so I told the guy he could just let me off there with my friend. He slowly looked at me and said, “No. I’m taking you where you need to go”. It was so weird. I mean, REALLY freaking creepy. Then… he locked the doors. My heart went in my throat. He looked kind of like the Penguin in Batman. I remember him to be wearing a trench coat, but that very well could be my imagination filling in the blanks. Regardless, he should have been wearing one, because he was just that kind of guy. I had this “feeling” inside me, that this was not going to end with him just dropping me off. This was bad news. This guy was definitely planning on making me a statistic. We near a bend in the road where he had to yield. Well, he slows down, almost to a stop, and I pull up the lock and jump out while the car is still moving! I haul ass over to my friend and live to see another day. Anyway, I’ve told that story to my boys to scare them from ever hitching a ride, and I think it worked.
So, my son brings that story up, totally out of the blue (we haven’t talked about it in years) and I tell him “I’ve never hitchhiked again, and I’ve never picked up a hitchhiker since then, either”. We discuss the dangers of picking up strangers, how they could be serial killers or rob you or whatever. I tell him how no one really hitchhikes anymore, anyway. We get home and decide to order takeout, so I leave to pick it up.
I’m coming home with dinner, maybe 45 minutes after this conversation. It’s sleeting, around 35 degrees out…miserable weather. I round the corner about 2 miles from home and what do I see on the side? Yep…a freaking hitchhiker. I shit you not. I swerve to avoid him. It’s so miserable out, I could barely see him. He had no coat on, a flannel shirt and a hat and I could see his soaked bag on the side of the road. I continue on home, thinking “Wow, what a coincidence to see a hitchhiker so soon after talking about them with Eric”. I keep thinking that, as I turn on my road. There’s another voice in my head saying, “Jami , you know there are no coincidences”. Then, yet another voice says “God is telling you to pick up that hitchhiker. The poor guy is freezing and in the middle of nowhere”. I counter that with my own voice (yes, I have LOTS of voices in my head….FYI) saying, “What if God is NOT telling you to pick him up and was really giving you the message/lesson back when you were 19 and if you ignore the lesson and get murdered tonight, it’s because you weren’t paying attention to the warning God gave you way back then? He could be testing you to see if you paid attention!” I kept thinking of the stories I learn in church, of how Jesus went to the marginalized, the sick, the needy… he helped the risky people, the people other people looked down on. Like that story of a homeless man outside a church and all the churchgoers walk right past him, basically stepping right over him, to get into church and worship God, when all the while, God WAS the homeless man. Then, I’d think of how nice people get murdered every day just for being nice and trying to help others. A voice in my head said, “Don’t forget how the girl ended up in the basement in Silence of the Lambs”…. seriously, all of these voices were arguing as I pulled up to my house. I took a deep breath, blocked out the voices and asked myself “what do I FEEL is right?” No sooner than the question was formed, I found myself turning around to pick this man up. The voices came back. “Jami! What if this guy kills you? No one will know you’re even picking him up. The boys won’t get to eat their Chinese food and even worse, they’ll lose their mother!” Valid point, voice of reason…valid point. Still, I went. “Come on, what serial killer in his right mind would choose a miserable, sleeting, freezing night to stand on a dark road, hoping for an unsuspecting woman to pick him up so he can kill her?” Even serial killers have enough common sense to do that shit when it’s warm out, right? All I could think of was how miserable I would feel to be standing out in this weather, hoping for someone to help me… yet knowing no one probably would.
So, I pulled up to the guy. Turns out, wasn’t a guy at all. It was a girl. She was about 20, and actually… there were two girls there. The bag I saw was really a purse. They were freezing, soaked to the bone and so grateful to get in my car. They said were at a boyfriends house and got into a fight and he kicked them out. I think they’d been drinking, but not sure. They lived a few towns away and had no phone to call for a ride. I end up driving them to a friend’s house the next town over. They didn’t kill me. They didn’t rob me. They could have. I lucked out, for sure. They kept talking about how long they were trying to find help. They knocked on doors and had no luck. I said, “If you knocked on my door, there’s no way in hell I would have let you in.” They understood, and said “I hope we aren’t making you go out of your way”. I replied, “Yes, I am, but it’s OK. I wanted to”, and told them the story of my hitchhiking conversation with my son and how I felt it was God’s way of helping them out tonight and how I was in my driveway and turned around to find them. They liked the story and kept talking about how it was nice to know there were still helpful people around, and about paying it forward some day. All the while, I was looking at them out of the corner of my eye, because, you know…they could still have robbed or killed me. I had my “Odor Assasin” car deodorizer spray handy, and my plan was to spray it in their eyes if they pulled anything funny. Sorry, it’s all I had. Anyway, it all worked out in the end. I told the boys about it when I got home, and they were pissed at me for doing something so dangerous and made me promise to not do it again…which I did. And I won’t.
I settled in for the night and went on Facebook. I saw that an old friend of mine passed away. He was a gay rights advocate…one of the “marginalized”. The postings about his death were pretty much at the same time I picked up those girls. Coincidence? Maybe. But I like to think it was God, cradling my friend and whispering in my ear…reminding me to not step over anyone.