Thursday, 25 March 2010

Do you pick up hitch-hikers?

I passed a hitch-hiker the other day and didn't stop.  And here I am much later still thinking about it.  It reminds me of a story from Joan Chittister's commentary on the rule of Benedict:
A Zen story tells of two monks walking down a muddy, rain-logged road on the way back to their monastery after a morning of begging who saw a beautiful young girl standing beside a large deep puddle unable to get across without ruining her clothes. The first monk, seeing the situation, offered to carry the girl to the other side, though monks had nothing whatsoever to do with women. The second monk was astonished by the act but said nothing about it for hours. Finally, at the end of the day, he said to his companion, "I want to talk to you about that girl." And the first monk said, "Dear brother, are you still carrying that girl. I put her down hours ago."
So why didn't I pick them up?  I think the main reason was that I dithered - I saw them, thought to myself "should I pick them up?" wondered about the safety, wondered about whether I would feel that I needed to go out of my way, and then I was past them with a car behind me.  Perhaps if I had thought about it ahead of time I would have been able to think it through.

I don't know about you, but it is years since I have seen a hitch-hiker, and for years before that I wasn't allowed to pick them up as I drove a company car and it was a company rule (see here for my attitude to rules), so it isn't something that I have had reason to think about.

When I was younger I hitched a little - and discovered a well worn route from Uxbridge to Cambridge (long gone thanks to the M25) - although people who didn't use it didn't realise it was there - several times when hitching people would indicate to me that I was heading the wrong way - and yet I usually managed to get a single lift all the way.  Perhaps it is time that I reciprocated.

Later Addition: For the avoidance of doubt, following a discussion about this post with a friend, I was reflecting on the rules focus that I thought was shown - whereas they thought there was something more sexual going on!  Just goes to show how you can mean one thing and people hear another!

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