Monday, May 7, 2012

Hitchhiker Mike

Ok, So I’m going to jump forward a little bit because I had such an eventful night.  I know I’m several games behind in my reviews but you guys have to hear this story.  If you have met me in the last couple weeks on my trip you know that I want to pick up a hitchhiker.  Everybody thinks I am crazy for this but I am convinced it would be an incredible adventure. 

Last night I was driving from Houston to Phoenix.  I decided I would go as far as I could and when I got tired I would stop.  The weather had a different plan.  As I was getting past the San Antonio City limits a wicked storm hit.  It was raining really heavy and I could barely see.  I didn’t want to risk anything so I decided to call it a night there.  I saw a sign up ahead for a hotel so I exited the highway.  As I was on the off ramp I heard the loudest “boom” I have ever heard.  It rattled my entire body.  At that moment all the electronic sensors in my rental car went off.  Apparently at that moment I had low tire pressure, needed an oil change, and washer fluid was low amoungst other things.  I made it to the hotel and checked the car and everything seemed to be fine.  I can only assume that lighting struck very close to my car and set everything off. 

This morning I woke up and started my journey.  I had only made it a few miles down the road when I saw a hitchhiker standing on the side of the road.  I quickly changed lanes and pulled the car over.  As the hitchhiker was coming up to my car I cleared some room for him.  He threw a bag in my back seat and hoped in the passenger side.  He said his name was Mike and I asked him where he was going.  Hitchhiker Mike informed me that he was trying to get to Oregon.  I let him know that I could take him as far as Phoenix and he was incredibly grateful.

Me and Hitchhiker Mike started to get to know each other when I noticed that he had a tiny odor.  It seemed to be a tiny mix of Urine and Cigarettes combined with a fruity bubble gum.  He told me that he had been standing out there for a while and the previous night had been allowed to stay in an RV at an RV dealership next to the highway.  Wouldn’t you just love to purchase that RV?  Hitchhiker Mike had recently quit his job on an oil rig and was trying to make it back up to the Washington/Oregon area where his kids live.  I also found out that he was a Vietnam Vet who had been drafted.  I wondered if Hitchhiker Mike had teeth back then.

As Hitchhiker Mike started to fall asleep in my passenger seat there was an SUV that kept pulling up next to me, speeding up, passing, falling back, etc.  I traveled about 100 miles playing leap frog with the woman.  When Hitchhiker Mike woke up he caught on to the came and let me know he did not like this random woman.  Every time we were next to each other the woman would not look over at us.  Hitchhiker Mike even tried to wave several times with no response.  On the back of her vehicle was an advertisement of some sort and a phone number.  I was in a rather adventurous mood with my new travel companion in the car so I decided to text the number.  I sent a message that read “Are we playing leap frog? RJ-The guy in the green car and Hitchhiker Mike.”  About 20 minutes passed before I received a response that said “I guess so.”

Me and this woman started exchanging texts messages and I let hitchhiker Mike read them.  I was getting low on gas so I let the woman on the other line, Danii, know that I had to stop soon but I would be willing to play this game until Phoenix.  She informed me that she was only going to El Paso but she would be happy to play.  I got off at the very first gas station I saw.  The drive between San Antonio and El Paso is filled with emptiness.  I only had 50 miles until I was out of gas so I was glad to see a fueling station.  I filled up the tank and Hitchhiker Mike smoked a cigarette.  As I was getting back on the highway Danii informed me that she too stopped to get gas and was getting back on the highway two miles up.

I feel the need to inform you that I have been really, really good about not speeding since I got my first ticket on the New York Thruway.  I just throw it on cruise control and coast along.  Danii was only two miles away and I was excited to play iSpy with a stranger in another car.  The speed limit on this stretch of highway is 80 which is the highest I’ve seen on a US highway.  I was drunk with the power of my lead foot and I hadn’t seen a cop all day.  I pressed the gas pedal down and as I was getting over top of a hill I saw a cop directly in front of me.  He apparently saw me and my alleged speed as well.  He pulled over to the side and I knew that he had my number.  I passed him and his lights came on.

The officer approached my car and asked me to step out and come to the rear of the vehicle.  He asked me if I knew why he pulled me over and I told him I had a sneaky suspicion.  He informed me that at such high rates of speed if I had a blown tire I could easily roll my vehicle.  That makes perfect sense but this man had no idea how much I love iSpy.  He asked me who the gentleman in my car was and I responded with “That’s hitchhiker Mike.”  The officer seemed to doubt this and started asking me questions.  I told him about my journey and how me and hitchhiker Mike came to be best friends.  He walked over to the vehicle and asked Hitchhiker Mike for his ID and how he knew me. 

The cop said he would write my citation and get me on my way.  I was told to stay behind the vehicle and that is what I did.  I stood out there for about ten minutes in 100 degree weather getting eaten up by giant Texas bugs before the cop came back.  He informed me that I would be receiving a ticket for allegedly going 99 in an 80mph zone.  I asked the officer if hitchhiker Mike popped up in his system at all and he informed me that we were both clear.  He told me to slow down and sent me on my way.

I was relieved to know that hitchhiker Mike wasn’t a confirmed serial killer and I didn’t have to be any more vigilant than I normally am.  I got up the road a little bit and may have set my cruise control to 85.  I texted Danii and let her know that I just received a ticket and I would be trying to catch up.  It was several hundred miles to El Paso so why the heck not?  I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a cop car quickly approaching.  Yup, the lights came on and I was getting pulled over for a second time in a very short time.  It was the exact same cop.  I couldn’t believe that this guy was pulling me over again.  I wasn’t a jerk to him, there’s no reason to pick on me! 

He got out of his vehicle and approached the passenger side of mine.  He asked hitchhiker Mike to step out of the vehicle.  He had him place his hands on his head and proceeded to search him. I couldn’t believe this.  Why hadn’t the cop arrested hitchhiker Mike the first time?  Maybe he wanted to catch him off guard.  The officer came over to the car and informed me that hitchhiker Mike had shown up in a small fashion in his system and they had to run it through the state to see if he was still wanted.  I told the officer that either way I wanted him to take hitchhiker Mike because I didn’t want anybody in the system in my car.  I know what you’re thinking, most hitchhikers are going to have some sort of record, but it’s a lot easier to deal with it if you live in denial.  The officer went back to his car and made hitchhiker Mike stand in the heat.  He did not like this and you could tell he was very grumpy, and sweaty, and probably smelling worse.  Another cop car pulled up and I could not stop smiling.  I had never been so happy to get pulled over in my entire life.  What are the chances I get the adventure I wanted by picking up a nomad.  The two cops got into one car and were hanging out.  My car was starting to get really warm and I considered walking back to hang out with the cops.  I didn’t want to startle them by asking if I could get in the back seat so I stayed in mine. 

The cops got out of the car and took a tactical approach to hitchhiker Mike.  They talked to him for a few minutes and he got back in my car.  Why the halo is this guy getting back in to my car?  The main officer asked me to step out of the vehicle and walk to the rear.  Now I was super confused.  Was I going to be arrested now?  The cop informed me that the state level couldn’t find him in the system and they had to let him go.  Bummer.  I told the two officers that this was the greatest story ever and they thought I was funny.  Clearly the first officer informed the tardy officer of my story.  I told the cop to hold on and I ran back to my car to grab a business card.  I told him I would be writing about it and that he should read it.  I also told him that I was hoping hitchhiker Mike would get arrested so I could be rewarded by having my ticket go away.  The officer ran back to his car and grabbed some things for me.  I got two junior trooper stickers (cause I’m a big boy), his business card, and information on becoming a Texas State Trooper.  Boy this guy had sure given me a lot of stuff today.  I had previously planned on becoming a police officer someday, but then I got deployed to two detainee operations missions overseas which required me to get pepper sprayed and tazered.  After feeling that pain I will never willingly do it ever again. 

I got back in the car and started texting my family and friends to let them know how amazing my trip was becoming.  Once again they all think I have a screw loose.  I told Danni about my mishap and had given up on ever playing iSpy.  I wanted to call and tell my dad, the cop, what happened but didn’t think it would be good with this crazy mad man sitting next to me.  I think hitchhiker Mike could tell I no longer wanted him as a guest because he got on his cell phone and called his brother.  His brother agreed to come pick him up from a rest area.  Before I stopped hitchhiker Mike informed me that the reason we got pulled over a second time was because he had broken up with his girlfriend and she called the cops because he had her car.  I believed that story.  I got near a rest area and he told me I could just pull over on the side of the highway and let him out.  As soon as the car stopped he thanked me for my service and told me he was hungry and would be willing to sell me something.  I reached into my change jar and got a couple dollars in quarters while hitchhiker Mike dug through his bag.  I gave him the money and he tried to give me some nudie magazines.  I told him that he could hang on to the magazines and he went on his way.

I got on the phone and started telling people about my story.  My mother claimed that I was insane and that I was switched at birth.  I thought it was so much fun.  I was about 20 miles from El Paso when I saw a car that I recognized.  It was Danii.  Apparently she was driving slow as well.  I started texting her again and found out that her number is on her car because she is a realator.  She also let me know that I was the first weirdo to randomly text that number while driving.  We chatted back and forth for a while and I found out that she was from Germany and she moved to the US to marry a US Army Sergeant Major.  For you nonmilitary people that’s a pretty high rank.  We continued with the small talk until we parted ways.  She wished me luck on my journey and promised that she would share my journey with her husband.

I drove for several more hours when I found myself on a very strange highway.  It was running through several small towns and the speed limit kept jumping.  It would go from 50 to 65 down to 45 all within a mile.  I was driving and noticed it was 55mph so I set my cruise control.  I took a look at my GPS to see how much longer I had and when I looked up I noticed two things.  First would be the cop in an SUV looking for speeders to my left.  The second thing I noticed was immediately across from him on my side of the road was a speed limit sign that read 35mph.  Crap, crap, crapola!  I slowed down but carried on down the road.  There was a vehicle behind me but I couldn’t tell if it was the cop or not.  I made it through the town and had reached a point where the speed limit hit 65.  I set my cruise and saw red and blue flashing lights behind me.  Yup, I was getting pulled over for the 3rd time with in a 12hr time frame.  That has to be some sort of record.  I pulled over, rolled down my windows, and got all my paperwork ready.  I heard him walking up to the car whistling and had a glimmer of hope.  Mean people don’t whistle.  He got to my window and asked me where I was going and where I was coming from.  I informed him of my trip and why I was doing it.  I also felt the need to let him know that this road could be very tricky for a non-local.  He agreed and said he would run my information and get me on my way in a jiffy.  He ran my information and came back to the car.  He shook my hand and thanked me for my service.  I gave him my business card and told him that he would want to read my blog because I just had the craziest day ever and he would get a laugh.  He shook my hand again and sent me on my way without a ticket.  I dodged a bullet on that one so I decided I needed to get off the road immediately.  I found myself a hotel and thanked the lord that I couldn’t get pulled over from the comfort of my room.

I do not regret picking up hitchhiker Mike.  I hope he finds me on Facebook so we can be real friends.  When I tell my grandkids about the amazing adventure I went on when I got home from Afghanistan I will be sure to tell them about the day I picked up a hitchhiker and got pulled over three times.  Every day is an adventure, why not smile?

Keep On Smilin- It’s Baseball Season!!


  1. WOWZERS!!What a day!! Makes for great memories and stories to pass to the grand the rest of your trip goes well!! Look forward to maybe meeting you at the game tonight at Chase Field!! Gooooo Dbacks!!

  2. I love it, Rj! And I am so jealous I can't be there with you for the ride & adventure! <3 you! Erica (walter) Brunt

  3. As someone who has also picked up hitchhikers, I can relate to the adventure of it all (as well as that urine smell). Glad everything turned out well. What a great story!

  4. Man RJ, you are an adventure seeking guy...that is really nuts!

  5. That's a great story. Glad you only got 1 ticket after getting pulled over 3 times.

  6. Man I'm glad that warrant was not confirmed. Hitchhiker Mike did have a little odor, and I saw that you two seemed like good pals. Really enjoyed reading this and look forward to your book. Good luck and be safe on your journey.....

  7. So you hae a .333 ticket average for the day, lol, thats a big league level average... Have fun on your journey

  8. LOL RJ, I apologize for falling behind on my blog-reading. What a great story! I can't wait to hear what happens next!