Not The Average Ride

Hvor skal i hen? I asked when I opened the door of the white transporter that dared to pull over on the narrow on-ramp close to Hjørring, in North Jutland.

In the van was a young and seemingly hip couple. Sitting next to the door I had opened, the guy looked at me with a cell phone glued onto his ear, ignoring my all-important question that was still awaiting an answer. From the other side of the cabin, the girl at the wheel, whose arms were covered with gross home-made, heart-shaped tatoos, threw a weird, interrogating glance at me, but then she got it and replied in Norwegian Vi skal mot Tyskland: we are heading to Germany. The guy, who was still talking on the phone, and was evidently greatly annoyed by it, made some room for me in the front, I hopped in and we set off.

Since I had put my bag in the back of the truck, I had noticed it was completely empty. When hitching from Denmark to Germany, a route that I know very well, there is but one thing that you see all over the place: respectable Danish middle-class men driving to the border, an empty trailer at the back of their car, waiting to be loaded with cheap German drinks. But the couple was evidently coming all the way from Norway, so that made it a bit unusual. To break the ice and start a conversation I asked them, so, you're gonna buy some booze, uh? The guy turned around and giving me a withering glance, said ssh, the cops are on the phone. Fuck.

I didn't even stand 10 minutes waiting for this ride, and I had soon put away my Århus-sign, thinking that it might get hard to hitch and so I got ready to accept nearly any ride south. I burst in a big smile when the van pulled over, thinking that finally I was in Denmark and getting rides would get a lot easier than in Norway, a country where I often feel miserable and transparent while waiting long hours for my ride. So my surprise was even greater when I realized I had hitched a ride with two Norwegians... in Denmark. They were going all the way to my final destination, so my day on the road was basically already over, and I didn't need to worry any further.

However, at this point it was clear that that wasn't really the average ride. What I had seen so far was already a bit fishy, but I usually don't give too much importance to things such as how people look. But the trouble they had on the phone seemed to be serious, and as if that wasn't enough, they were very keen to tell me every detail about it and other troubles. A friend of theirs had been injured during a fight the night before, and they reported the fact to the police; the following day though, the cops called them in to testify, which of course they couldn't do, as they were on the road to Germany and had no interest to tell them what their business was.

Almost as a ritual, they were alternating on the phone, each time yelling that they were stressed and needed a holiday, and that the police had no right to enquire about their location, and that that was the last time they were ever helping them swines. Each time, the conversation would end with either of them smashing the phone onto the dashboard, so that both the battery and even the sim card would immediately pop out. It became quite annoying for me too, but somehow, they would each time put the phone parts back together again and start over again yelling at the police. During the whole process, I was vehemently asked my opinion about the quarrel, which of course was that they were absolutely right...

At some point, the arguing finally stopped. Nobody picked up the phone any more, and we enjoyed a couple of minutes of silence, at which point I finally had to answer the usual what-the-fuck-is-an-Italian-doing-here-in-Denmark-and-why-the-fuck-you-speak-Norwegian-kind of questions. What I like about these people is that, unlike for example in Germany, nobody asks me why don't you take the train, son? almost as if they found hitchhiking normal (while in fact it's very rare).

To dissipate my calm, evidently, they soon informed me about the business that they were dispatching. They said they had already been stopped and searched a couple of times. I childishly thought of my Swiss army knife and my wood carving knife, that since the special laws introduced during the Climate Summit the previous December, could get me very easily into trouble in Denmark. During the summit, construction workers were being arrested because they were carrying cardboard cutters in their tool box and stuff. I don't want trouble, I have a ship to Iceland to catch in two days, I kept on repeating myself.

As to demonstrate his claims, the guy proudly showed me a pretty big piece of Afghani hash, and suddenly grabbed a bottle of vodka from somewhere around his feet and took three generous mouthfuls, as if it was spring water. The girl looked at him. He was not going to drive, I was, he said. You have a license, don't you?

I hate driving. Plus, holding the wheel had the awkward inconvenience of being legally responsible for everything going on in the car; but on the other hand, I had the situation under control, and regardless of them drinking and copiously smoking hash and talking to the cops well, at least I could trust myself. I tried to stay cool, concentrate on my uncoordinated driving, not look hostile but at the same time politely saying no to them every time they asked me what kinds of drugs I was into, and if I knew any good dealers that sold by the kilo. For some reason, the guy had seen a fellow smuggler in me, or something. The time was soon over and yes, I "dropped myself off" at a lovely gas station. So much for today.