or There Are Too Many Cops in Buffalo
Sitting in a diner, chewing my fingernails, nervously sipping Dr Pepper. In the middle of nowhere. Through my head repeats some of the only hitchhiking advice I know, "You will get a ride, even if it takes all day." I am discouraged. I've walked in here twice already, without knowing where to go or where I am going. I am determined to prove hitchhiking is possible in the United States. So far my rides have consisted of (#1) a transit bus, with an incredibly wonderful driver nicknamed Sunshine. New York State has the longest toll highway in the US, the Thruway, which covers most of the major cities -Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany & NYC. It is also illegal to hitch on. The police officer (#2) had a stern demeanor & said "I don't know how you do things in Canada, but that's not allowed in the US," then dropped me off at the closest Tim Horton's. I got sympathy inside & an egg salad sandwich for when things are sure to go further awry. Another customer drives me to the aforementioned truck stop, where I spend the next 2-4 hours (time really isn't my specialty right now). He asks me for a kiss goodbye & with my feet firmly on the pavement I curse myself for giving him my real email address. (I haven't heard the end from Bigot Jim yet!)
I constantly try to overcome my fears. When I'm nervous about something, I try to take a few breaths, and go for it. Mexican truckers are super cool & frequently my heroes on the road. American truck drivers make me very nervous. They are segregated into a part of the diner that seems to be in a glass bowl (the smoking section). I fantasize about walking in & making a brief but polite announcement about my search for a ride. Instead, I am glancing over at them, sweating it out, making my fingernails bleed.
Reflecting over some more advice from an expert hhing CSer "Do not do anything you are not comfortable with." This is the best advice. I don't want to go with them if it's causing me this much anxiety. Even if it's my only chance getting to my CS host tonight. Walking along towards the I-90 East Thruway, to chance a lucky break, and spot a cop eyeing my signs & talking into his shoulder. Anick-Marie's words are ring in my head. The other direction towards the secondary road, at least legally hitchable, like the one I was headed towards before I left Buffalo for Middle of Nowhere.
Miles and miles of seemingly endless industrial parkway. Not any places I could even fathom finding a payphone or ATM. Sometimes it'll just be walking along the highway thumb out & a sign on my back. Backpack altered for weight distribution. Start to recognize the size & proximity of the engines; car, truck, motorcycle, semi. Look up & sometimes there'll be a car stopped in front of you/me. Run towards it. Repeat. Sometimes they let you out really close to a the Erie County Correctional Facility, with razor wire stacked 4x high. I take pictures of the geese & their babies, and ramble on.
I always have emergency supplies & keep forgetting about them. In Sticksville NY, I thought I lost my credit card, thinking that I'm completely fucked & forgetting about my hidden cash. (It was in my pocket, obviously.) I always have elastics, toilet paper, flashlight, scissors, gum, toothpicks, a marker & plastic bags among other things. Cardboard makes it easier to sleep at night.
When explaining things to consider when hitching, The Spot is always mentioned. You have to have a good Spot if you want a ride. I forget about the eye contact, smiling, making yourself look fun, confidence...
Signs are hit & miss. Lying in wait, waiting for the trap to set. Testing out different forms of bait. "Syracuse, Scranton, I Have Cookies." Here Kitty kitty kitty...
I tend to thank profusely. Just before I closed the door of the car I asked "where am I?"
Less important matters.
I feel pretty good about the spotting of my tent tonight. Operation Plan B is in effect. I didn't even get anywhere close to where I wanted to be, but tomorrow hopes to be an early start. I (think) am in Darien NY. Beside an old farmhouse & in front of a firestation. I'm far enough in to be invisible, but my paranoia's monitoring my levels of exposure. Lucky a guy outside the laundromat let me borrow his phone to let HQ know I won't be in tonight. A kid biking down the street stopped to ask me about my travels. I like travelling the secondary. The roads & people are decent & forgiving, instead of big city robot freeways.