I WAS working one summer as a counsellor on a camp on the Eastern shore in Maryland, an area of natural beauty, well known for its great seafood and beaches.
Most of the other counsellors had left for the weekend and without any means of transportation, you were pretty much stuck. I decided that wouldn’t stop me and made the decision to hitchhike to the nearest town about fifteen minutes by car. I had no problem getting a ride from a nice guy in a pick-up truck along with his dog.
After about an hour of walking around the town of Centreville, I started to get bored as there was really not a lot to do. There was not a soul around town and it was really quiet like a church without a congregation. To state that the town was slow paced was an understatement. I decided I would hitchhike to the next town. Getting a ride was easy and I struck up a nice conversation with the driver, an older gentleman who knew the Eastern shore well.
Chestertown was a small town, with a population of just over 4,000 but there was more life in this town. I walked along the High Street browsing in antique shops and a bookshop and admiring the grand houses of this quaint colonial town.
After a pleasant afternoon spent exploring the town I really needed some refreshment and to get a break from the sun. I stopped off in the nearest bar. After a refreshing Coca Cola, I realised it was getting late and it was time to head back to camp.
After having had no luck hitching a ride out of town, I realised my best bet was to walk out of town and try and hitch a ride on the main road. Despite my best efforts of sticking out my thumb, not one car stopped. It was now dusk and feeling tired and parched from the humid heat I needed to rest.
I felt panic set in. How on earth was I going to get back? I marched on the heat seemed relentless, and I felt the sweat pour from every pore. I was really craving something cold, anything to quench my thirst.
I set off again with the intention of walking. There were cars on the road their headlights dazzling me. Probably students going out for the weekend I thought. In my desperation I tried to stop them, by moving further out onto the road and with my arm stretched out like a fool, only to be met by a blare of horns. Perhaps they had heard on the radio about an escaped felon, all the more reason not to stop.
I was determined to get back to camp and decided to walk. I felt quite disoriented as I didn’t really have a clue as to the right direction. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a light coming from a house on a plot of land some distance away. Almost jumping for joy, I headed in that direction; going up a long dirt road I approached the farmhouse and knocked on the door.
‘’Who is it? ” said the farmer’s wife. ’’ I wonder if you could help me. I’m lost,” I said. ‘’Is there anyone else out there with you? ” she asked. ‘’No, I am alone , “I assured her.
After deciding that perhaps I was not an escaped felon or possible sex fiend, she reluctantly opened the door and let me in. I was greeted by her husband. ‘’I appear to have lost my direction. I have been walking from Chestertown ,” I said. The farmer’s wife looked at me with suspicion; my dishevelled appearance probably didn’t help.
The man offered me some iced tea, which I gladly accepted. I was walking trying to find my way back to Camp Pecometh ,” I explained. Well, if you were to continue walking in this direction you would have ended up in the river ,” he said. The farmer’s wife gave me a cold stare. Probably, she still held a grudge against the British for imposing taxes on the colonies back in 1765 without their consent and for causing the revolutionary war.
Shall I call the camp? ” said the man. That would be most kind of you ,” I said. Thanking the couple for their kind hospitality, I was met by Jack, the Camp Director, who having heard my tale of woe in my experience of hitchhiking, was sympathetic.
Nobody really hitchhikes anymore in the USA. It’s not safe ,” he said. ‘’Only Mad Dogs and Englishmen ,” I thought.
The next morning, we were sitting getting ready for breakfast in the dining room. The Camp Director asked us how our weekend had been. ‘’Who won’t be hitchhiking again? I meekly raised my hand, now aware that I was the centre of attention, my colleagues amused by my adventurous travels. You can guess who got to eat humble pie that morning. I guess no-one really hitchhikes in the USA. ‘’Too many crazy people out there ,” I thought.