Ben C benj at connexus.net.au
Wed Jul 30 07:12:20 MDT 2003

When I was little my dad took me hitch hiking all over (Eastern) New
South Wales (that's a state of Australia if anyone's not up on
antipodean geography). We didn't have a car. I remember several
occasions where this happened, in the early 1980s. I guess it helped a
guy with a huge flaming red beard like bikies only dream of to have a
little six year old along to look friendlier.

I was thinking about hitching the other day. The last time I did it was
a couple of years ago when I hitched from Melbourne to Sydney for a
party congress. It was very easy, I did it in 3 separate lifts. But you
really don't see a lot of people hitching these days. I was just
pondering why a couple of days ago.

Hitch-hiking is a pretty scary thing for your average nine-to-five
suburbanite. There's no instant gratification. There's no warranty.
There's no timetable. And - horror - you have to *talk* to strangers. Of
course there's the worry about axe-wielding homicidal maniacs taking you
off into some deserted forest road but that I think is far enough out of
the ordinary that it's not the biggest worry for most people, certainly
not the most tangible.

I think the death of hitch hiking (however much exaggerated) is in part
due to the conservativeness of consumer culture that makes an airline or
rail or bus ticket kind of within reach and at the same time makes
purchased packets of products the "safe" and "normal" way to do
everything. All of which I abhore, but that's exactly why I'm a
socialist of course.

Ben C

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