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Jesus Christ and other Hitchhikers

When I see hitchhikers standing alongside the highway, I feel for them, because I hitchhiked thousands of miles when I was younger. I know what it's like to wait for a ride for hours. But back in my hitchhiking days people still regularly stopped to give you a ride. Now when my wife and I stop to give a man a ride, we often hear he was waiting for a day or two.

Jesus Christ waited for two-and-a-half days in Gunnison, Colorado, before my wife said, "He looks okay," and we pulled over to the side of Highway 50. He was going to Montana because God had told him that was where he would be needed. For the first thirty minutes he was hesitant to tell me his name, but once he did, and he saw that I wasn't shocked (we've picked up a lot of hitchhikers), he opened right up, and told us he was THE Jesus Christ, back on Earth.

Jesus is about five-foot nine-inches, with neatly combed long hair - a mix of blond and gray. He's sixty-four years old, and thin, as you might expect after 25 years of being homeless and traveling. He explained that one eye is slightly larger than the other due to a brain aneurysm that burst while he was living on the streets of Tucson six years earlier. His walking stick has the top carved into a fish head, because, as he told me, "All the prophets carry a staff." I would have thought a carpenter would make his own, but he bought the stick.

Jesus drinks water from rivers and sleeps where he finds himself each evening. As I struggled to put his 60-pound rolling suitcase in our van, I realized he still likes a few comforts, however. Next destination? Wherever God sends him. Give him a ride and he will reward you with hours of bible verses and assurances that the end times are near - which he seems unusually happy about. He will be very appreciative if you help him out with lunch money, so he can, "continue doing my job," as he puts it.

Other Hitchhikers

A month before we met Jesus we picked up a woman who had just discovered she needed to be in a car to visit a state prison - no pedestrians allowed. She couldn't walk in the prison gate to visit her husband, who was locked up for a few years, turned in by her sister and daughter for some crime she didn't want to specify. This ride would take her to Pueblo to get a cell phone so she could track down her usual ride to prison.

A couple months before that we gave a ride to a fifty-five-year-old man who looked at least ten years older than that. His recent life consisted of wandering the country, doing some carpentry work, and otherwise asking people like us for a little money to go with the free ride. We left him with a bag of food instead. He and a similar homeless gentleman we picked up a month before him seemed like genuinely decent people.

Times change, and the typical hitchhiker is not the same as he or she used to be years ago. Being homeless appears to be the norm among those traveling by thumb these days. Interestingly, it seems to be a lifestyle choice. Not one of the many homeless people we've picked up hitchhiking have problems with alcohol or drugs (as far as we could tell), and they all have been normal mentally. Well, unless Jesus wasn't who he said he was.

Most hitchhikers today seem to be decent people who express no real interest in getting a job, and seem relatively content or resigned to life on the road and in the parks and shelters of various towns. I never cared much for jobs myself, so I can understand the feeling. If this assessment offends anyone, all I can say is that I am reporting our experience, and we do regularly pick up hitchhikers.

Pick Them Up Or Not?

Should you stop to pick up a hitchhiker? I can't answer that for you, but we like to meet new people and help out where we can. If can advise you to keep your eyes open so you'll know what you're getting into. Once we pulled over to pick up two guys in their twenties. As soon as the door was open, a third friend and his large pregnant German Sheppard appeared from the bushes near the road. Great company, and the dog was well behaved, but after a year on the road, they had accumulated a lot of stuff, most of which ended up tied to the roof of the car.

We had our own luggage, since we were traveling the country. We were in our Ford Escort, so adding three big guys, a pregnant German Sheppard and a lot of luggage meant the car didn't want to stop so easily going down those mountain roads in New Mexico and Arizona. We were also riding awfully close to the pavement. It was an adventure. We were also a bit surprised that after carrying these guys a couple hundred miles, one of them asked for a couple dollars top buy lunch! I suppose shamelessness pays.

Of course, you never know what you're going to get when you give a stranger a ride. It could be dangerous too. My wife admits that she may want to quit helping others. She points out that we got Jesus last time, and she's worried we might get the devil himself next time around. Fortunately, we truly haven't met any bad hitchhikers so far.

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