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April 2004
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My last hitchhiker

Some years ago (many years, actually, but we needn't dwell on that) I attended South Dakota State College. In these days you will not find that name in the registry of colleges and universities in the USA. It seems that during one of my scholastic interregnums the college was promoted to a university. I like to think that it was the glory of my attendence that warranted the institutions promotion, but I don't suppose that it was. These things are never done for the right reason. The change of name probably was one of those tax fiddle things whereby a change of name moves you to a different schedule on which you can deduct your depreciated reserves. Either that or it is easier to get laid if you are the president of a university than if you are the president of a college.

One day whilst attending said glorious institution I was driving from somewhere to somewhere else. At this late remove I don't recall the particulars save that I wasn't going home or indeed to any place of consequence or even to any place that I would usually go. In short it was not a customary route. It was through sparsely inhabited tan grass prairie. There is is nothing remarkable about that; South Dakota abounds in sparsely inhabited tan grass prairie.

Somewhere along the way, not anywhere in particular, I came upon a hitchhiker. Being an amiable chap filled with the milk of human kindness, I stopped and offered him a ride. He thanked me and got in. His odd manner did not dismay me - even then I was accustomed to all sorts of odd people. I was surprised, though, when he pulled out a 22 pistol.

It's not what you might think. He didn't offer me violence. Rather it was just that he liked his pistol and, as he informed me at length, that he enjoyed shooting. We must have talked of other things but that is the part of the conversation that I recall.

Eventually we came to an intersection somewhere else in some other part of the middle of nowhere. I was headed one way and he another so he got off at the intersection. He was a good fellow; to show his gratitude he gave me a box of 22 shells.

Do you know, it is a strange thing and quite a coincidence, but he happens to have been the last hitchhiker that I ever gave a ride.


This page was last updated April 12, 2004.

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