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Life Arts

Hitch-Hiking from Marin County to Grants Pass, in 1975

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I was living in Marin County, and my Freshman roomie and his wife were both Poly Sci profs at the U of O, and I got this wild hair to hitch-hike to Eugene and visit them.  So I was out on 101 North around Sausalito, and I saw another guy hitch-hiking and walked over and introduced myself.  He was an American Indian also hitching north, and about ¾ smashed on a bottle of red wine.  So we started sharing the bottle and gabbing, and it was about 3pm on a very cloudy afternoon, and this Indian looks up at the clouds and says, we're going to get soaked in about 5 minutes.  And of course we did.  Ha Ha.  But that's not the funny part. 

We got maybe two short rides before it started getting dark; and we were about to give up and find cover for the nite, when this old Pontiac stops, and backs up for us.  In it are two Chicanos, real low-riders, and they're smoking dope big time AND drinking wine, and the Indian and I get in the back seat, loving it.  So we ride and drink with the Mexicans and smoke their dope and our own, for maybe two hours, and find out our hosts are from San Jose and just out sort of joy-riding, but also going to Oregon to find work because there's no work for sh*t in San Jose.  By this time we're in the mountains, and it's raining steady, and the Chicanos start bitching about all the rain, like they've never heard about it raining a lot in Oregon.  And how they really hate working in the f*cking rain anyway, and they're thinking about turning around and driving back.  And the Indian and I are chuckling over them being so funny; and the rain's becoming snow; and the snow's not melting off; and we're not even to Grants Pass yet. 

Finally it must be at least 9 pm, we've been driving slow for what seems like hours,  and the driver says he's not driving in the damn snowstorm one mile further.  So we pull off the side of the road a little and everyone tries to go to sleep.  Which isn't so hard with everyone as drunk and stoned as we were.  Some time passes, and there's snow on all the windows.  Then there's a loud knock on the driver's window.  (I'll call him Juan.)  Juan rolls down his window and it's a cop, peering in with his flashlight shining.  He and Juan exchange words that none of the rest of us heard, and the cop steps back and Juan rolls up the window.  Then Juan curls up like he's going back to sleep, but the Indian starts pounding him on the back demanding to know what the hell the cop said.  "Oh he just wanted to know what we're doing here," Juan said.  "So I tol him: We live here.  Who are you?  The MAILman?" And, "He just said to drive careful - it's a bad one tonite." 

The snowing had stopped hours before, the next morning when we got to Grants Pass, and the Chicanos told the Indian and me to get out.  Which we did, in good spirits.  And the last thing we saw of the Pontiac with the crazy Mexicans, it was making a U-turn and heading back to San Jose.

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I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)
 

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