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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Hitcher

Just leave it to the movies to make you afraid to go outside by yourself. There's always a criminal psycho who is ready to greet you in the local forest, cave, beach or anywhere else you walk alone. Of course, he (she) proceeds to chop you up into people tartare, which serves you right for being so damned trusting in the first place and not sticking to safer venues, like the local mall or Wal-Mart.

And that's why we have traffic problems.

No, that's no non-sequitur. Consider this, how many times have we refrained from picking up hitchhikers because we fear for our safety? Does all the time seem right to you? After all, the movies perform a valuable public service to warn us of hitchhikers because that's the preferred way murdering psychos get to work in the morning. So we don't trust one another and drive alone.

But consider if you have no option but to trust. Then you take your chances and find out that you somehow survive. That's my experience. Consider this true story. It was 1995 and I was thumbing around Moscow, you know, that little town in Russia? (and don't ask me what I was doing in Moscow at the time, that' s another story) Since at that time nobody had cars (which has changed now, as Moscow traffic now more resembles Los Angeles) and taxis barely existed, you had to use your thumb, or rather your fingers. So, on a semi-busy Moscow street, just extend your arm down on a 45 degree angle, extend two index fingers, and traffic literally would stop and make a bee line to you, sort of like it does in American cities for expensive hookers or drug dealers. Similarly, its a deal they were after, since you had the rubles, they had the car, and we both wanted something the other had. So after a little negotiating, it was off to the races, which depicts exactly how Muscovites drive. Needless to say, I survived, and got around a city of 8 million plus with all the economy and speed of a bullet train.

In America, we've learned the hard way not to trust. After all, trusting got the Russians communism, Gulags, and other nasty things. So, smart folk that we are, we build trust by first insuring trust. We know this from our personal affairs because we have the FDIC and FDA to respectively keep our bank accounts and food supplies sound. If not, we would keep our money in our mattresses and grow our own food. The problem is, for personal transportation, we need a way to insure trust in each other so the hitchhiker in all of us can roam free.

Following the lay of the law for guns and other dangerous devices, I suggest that the government just issue hitchhiking permits or ID cards that certify our trustworthiness as pedestrian or driver and thus allow us to carry a concealed thumb. Then establish a suggested per mile rate to cut down on the need to negotiate. Presto, everybody begins to carpool, traffic congestion goes down, global warming eases, and we all get to work on time.

Hmm, I think I have just saved the world.

To the Nobel Prize committee: you can mail my award to me anytime.

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