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Mar
5

10-4 social proof

It started on June 6th when Billy “Rubber Duck” Bartucz met “Big” Ben Sullivan at the Flag Town Campgrounds in Upstate New York. As fate would have it they both planned to hitchhike across the country and after they started talking about it in more detail they agreed to meet the next night at another campsite a few hours’ drive (or ride, to be precise) down the road. Assuming they would both make it.

They did and after spending another enjoyable evening in each other’s company they decided to meet up again the following evening in Ohio. It was there that they ran into Pete McCall, another hitchhiker, and asked him to join their group. He not only liked the idea, but invited a pair of hitchhikers a few tents over. Jimmy Davis and his girlfriend, CW, an overweight but amiable gal, were only too happy to sign on so that morning five hitchers thrust out their thumbs with the intention of hooking up at another predetermined spot later that day.

By the time they got to Tulsa there were 85 of them.  With cell phones and laptops, the word had been spread and soon they had to fan out so as not to overload the roads with hitchhikers. Every morning they would leave their encampment like bees swarming out trying to get the next ride.

Of course hitchhiking is illegal in most states so eventually the group started to come under some scrutiny but they moved through road blocks like water through a sieve. Armored cars and jeeps could do nothing to stop them. Campground were another thing though and soon the number of free-ride-solicitors was too great and they were turned away from every place they tried, so it was decided that they would meet up in large fields and make do where they could.

Somewhere in New Mexico, it was agreed that everyone who insisted on playing acoustic guitars and harmonicas at the campfires late into the evening every night would be given the wrong location to meet at the following day. The following evening things were significantly quieter and people were in a noticeably better mood.

No law enforcement agencies would dare move against such a large group but instead they waited on the outskirts and picked off the stragglers. Even so they could do nothing to slow down the movement across the Rockies, their numbers growing with every passing day.

As they approached California there were over a thousand of them. A sea of thumbs and cardboard signs, choking every highway, freeway, expressway, parkway, throughway and interstate. A herd unlike anything seen in nature, a sea of humanity flowing over peaks and down through valleys, completely dependent on the kindness of strangers to move them along. With numbers this great, every possible story that could be told was played out. Terrible acts of cruelty and inspiring acts of altruism. The very best of mankind and the absolute worse. It was all there.

On the afternoon of June 21st they arrived in Pismo Beach, California just as the sun was setting. Rubber Duck and Big Ben looked out at the throngs and gave them all a smile and a friendly wave. “Gas, grass or ass … nobody rides for free!” Rubber Duck exalted and the crowd roared its approval. The two road-weary friends then turned and walked to the edge of the cliff that sat perched high above the calm blue ocean. With a final glance back at the crowd and a reassuring nod to each other, they jumped. For a moment there was silence as the gathering drank in the scene but then as one they ran to the edge and launched themselves off.

It was spectacular.

Of course with that many bodies hurling themselves into the water there were a few bumps and bruises but the water was cool and refreshing and most of these hitchhikers badly needed a bath so it was all good.

What? You didn’t think lemmings could swim?

Everyone swam and laughed and each thanked the thousands of drivers who had made the moment possible in their own way and while not many of the swimmers lived happily ever most of them had wonderful night.

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