Monday, July 8, 2013

Hitch Hiker

My sisters and I and our kids are heading down to our childhood home town of Eden soon. It will definitely be a bit strange and sad to be there without either Mum or her husband, Max. I still wonder how both of them can be dead and all those happy times with them past. 

Countryside in Eden Monaro

It's pretty much exactly a year since I thought Mum sounded weird on the phone after she'd been a bit sick for a few days and so I bundled up my kids and dog into the car and drove to Eden. When we arrived the house was all dark, the doors were all open and it was absolutely freezing and Mum was sitting up in bed with a massive bruise down half her face and not making much sense. I don't think she'd eaten for a week and she was in a state. It was shocking to find your mother like that. Within a few days she'd been diagnosed with a brain tumour, I brought her up to RPA and a few weeks later she died.  I really miss her and appreciate all the kind words you guys have given me about her over the last year.

Because of what we found when we arrived at Mum's and that taking precedence of all else, I never shared the story of our car trip down to Eden. I didn't even tell my husband about it until we were all sitting around one night before Mum's funeral. 

Countryside in Eden Monaro

The kids, Charlie our dog and I had set off bright and early from Sydney and decided to take the inland route to Eden. We made good time, Brown Mountain was reported to be open to traffic and we sang songs, chatted happily and were enjoying our time in the car together. We all love a good car trip. It was all uneventful until we were on the outskirts of Cooma. It was about 4pm, getting on in the late afternoon and all foggy and extremely cold outside. We were full of good cheer though and having a lovely time (unaware of how sick mum was and what lay before us).

Just out of Cooma we saw a hitch hiker on the side of the road. I was feeling all Buddhist and kind and good will to all mankind etc. And it was starting to rain and just so cold. I also have hitch hiked and picked up hitch hikers in my youth, so I pulled over and offered a lift. We loaded his backpack into the back of the car and pulled back onto the road. As soon as I pulled away, I though holy shit what have I done. But I felt I couldn't pull back over and say I'd made a mistake so I kept driving.

I tried to make conversation and asked him where he was going. He said he was wanting to go skiing (but we were driving away from the ski fields?) and then he sank into weird silence.  I kept telling myself that it was ok.

The atmosphere in the car was tense, all the fun and cheer had evaporated. My kids were so quiet in the back seat and it was so awful. I was kicking myself and having a terrible time concentrating on the foggy roads.  Then out of the corner of my eye I saw him reach down into his bag and pull out some gloves.

As he pulled them on all I was thinking was "why? it's so warm in the car, is he going to murder us?"

I realised then I needed to pull over and get him out of my car, but we were in the middle of the bush on a little highway and it was now raining quite heavily outside and I thought if he is a serial killer I would definitely make him angry by kicking him out in the middle of no where and if he was just a nice but bit weird guy then it wouldn't be kind of me to drop him in the middle of no-where. 

I spotted a car ahead and kept up with it so at least we were near other traffic and I decided that I would drop him off at Nimmitabel.  Never has driving 36 km taken such a toll on me.  I never would have made it safely down Brown Mountain with him in the car and me looking at those gloves wondering what he was plotting.

As we pulled into the outskirts of tiny little Nimmitabel I said to him I'm sorry but I am too stressed and worried about my kids to concentrate properly on the road so I'm going to have to drop you off. He just asked that I drop him at the cafe in the main street. So he probably wasn't a serial killer. But who knows!

Countryside in Eden Monaro

but my kindness to others now has a limit. 

No hitch hikers.

I am an idiot at times.

Fiona xx


  1. Oh Fiona, I knew you had lost your mum but I didn't know how. That is heartbreaking. My parents live hours away and I know it's hard when something is wrong to be that far away. I hope you have a lovely time with your family and the beautiful memories you have help chase away some of the sadness.
    Have a safe trip and drive past those hitchhikers!
    Alison x

  2. oh you lovely lady, what a terrible trip for you. I'm so glad you felt brave enough to ask him to get out. And I'm so sorry about your mother and the way you found her. What a shock that must have been. She would be so proud of you (I'm sure she was)
    Beth x

  3. where I live there is little or no public transport. I've only picked up the one hitch hiker (a woman) when I had one of my kids in the back. I think part of the reason I don't is out of fear for the kids, but sometimes I look at these hitchhikers who are only teenagers trying to get around where there is no bus service and I think maybe it would be better if I pick them up than someone dodgy! It's a bit of a ying and yang type scenario. Scared for me if I do / scared for them if I don't.

  4. so good that you let him out- i have never picked up a hitch hiker! it scares me!

  5. Too scary.I used to hitch hike when I was younger but I could never pick up anyone now-love deex

  6. You did the wise thing really, even though in a perfect world helping each other out is the way to be. I think in today's world it is NOT wise to not only hitch-hike but to pick hitch-hikers up. I'm so sorry it turned into such a heart-breaking day for you and your family. God Bless.

  7. We lost my beloved grandmother under very similar circumstances about 35 years ago. It was a really difficult time for our family. My heart extends to you and your family.

    No more hitch-hikers. It is so sad that we can't be kind hitch-hickers, but as others havesaid - it's just not safe.

    God be with you on your drive this week.

  8. Hey Fiona,

    Don't beat yourself up....we all live and learn. When you are a genuinely nice person you just expect everyone is.....just like you.

    Not that long ago as a Thirty something I found myself divorced after 12 years of marriage. Long story short while getting back on my feet financially I took in a couple of boarders to help with the mortgage at the time. I remember going to bed that first night going what have i done. Mind you this is all pre kids. As it turns out my boarders were great and no trouble.

    The crazy things we do hey?

    Have a super day!



  9. Hi Fiona, about37 years ago I picked up a hitch hiker. His car appeared to have broken down and he wanted to get to a garage. He was in the back with our then 1year old baby boy and our dog. The moment he got in the car I like you was thinking all sorts of things. My husband was in the car but I was still concerned. We got to the garage in the next town and he was so grateful but I have never picked up a hitch hiker again. What a terribly sad trip for you, but you did notice some thing was wrong and acted immediately. Your mum would be so proud of the caring young woman she brought up. Have a lovely time with your family remembering the good times.
    Best wishes Brenda


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