We Never Shared Names

Submitted by Anonymous Hitchhiker on 27 January 2009 - 11:50am

It costs 29 euro to take the train from Heerlen to Amsterdam, which seems reasonable, especially since I want to support the efficient, comfortable and comprehensive Dutch mass transit system.

But it misses the point - the point which is about radical sharing. And about storytelling. And about dropping social barriers. And about taking useful risks. And about modeling behaviors for a more sustainable future.

I am talking about hitchhiking.

Dutch weather is perfect for hitchhiking today - it is cloudy and threatening to rain. So even if I am not wet now, I could be in moments. You get to be a hero for picking up someone at the edge of a storm. Many people wave, some indicate that they are only going a short distance or that their vehicles are filled with family or junk. One woman gives me a thumbs down, but she is the exception.

After about 45 minutes, a car stops on the wide breakdown lane entering the highway to the North. He is going to Eindhoven and on to Tilburg - far enough along my way to give up my good spot for what might be a poor one further on.

He is totally charming and speaks good English. He is an art lecturer, who amazingly makes his money from the entry fees to his lectures. He rents out auditorium space, self promotes and makes enough to live relatively comfortably. I can't conceive of someone doing this in the US, unless they had a huge name and then they wouldn't do their own promotion.

We talk about Jackson Pollack, who I have never understood. And Andy Warhol, whose art doesn't impress him, but whose intellect he respects. I ask him about Rembrandt and the Night Watch and why it is so important. He talks about artists as revolutionaries, as challenging our perceptions of the world. In Pollacks case, he talks about revolutionizing the tools artists use - throwing out the brush and the easel. I tell him stories, talk about the commune and of course memetics. He is enchanted and seems pleased that he took the opportunity to pick up a hitchhiker. And I'm glad I skipped the train.

Often it is part of the culture of hitching, to be vulnerable and nearly intimate with someone and never know this label on their identity.

We parted in Tilburg and we never shared names.