Biff America: Offering rides, scaring people (column) |

Biff America: Offering rides, scaring people (column)

Let me start by saying, I honestly am not a creepy person yet I occasionally can be confused with one.

I would define ‘creepy’ as having inappropriate dealings or dialogue towards women and/or kids.

But I would also contend there are more people like me, who might be confused as being scary, than there are folks who actually have scary intentions.

She was running down the street in, what I would describe, as ‘going out partying’ clothing. The young gal wore boots, with high heels, over tights and a cropped leather jacket, she carried a small purse and wore no hat. It was cold, very windy, snowing and getting dark. I made two assumptions: First, was she wasn’t running for exercise, second, that she was running towards the bus stop over a quarter mile away.

Because I often take that very same bus, I knew that she would be unlikely to make it. Since I was heading right by the bus stop I pulled up beside her, rolled down my window and yelled, “Would you like a ride?” I was amazed how someone wearing boots with heels could accelerate so quickly.

Now a real creepy guy would then think, ‘I better get out of here this gal knows I’m weird.” But a guy like me just assumes that the young gal either could not hear me because of the wind or does not speak my language. I assumed that the solution, in either case, was for me to yell more loudly.


It was then that I realized that the young gal wasn’t bilingual but was in fact hard of hearing because even though I was yelling she kept her eyes straight ahead and threw it into high gear.

Of course in retrospect I feel awful about scaring that young lady but on the bright side, by a near superhuman effort, she beat the bus to the stop.

In the old days you could offer a running woman a ride to the bus stop without risking being misinterpreted. In the old days you were not afraid to accept a ride from strangers. All it takes is one ax murderer to ruin it for everybody.

I don’t think this country has become more dangerous but rather the danger which has always existed is getting more attention. I would argue that America is safer than it has ever been yet the populous is more fearful.

I think hitch hiking is a good litmus test in regards to the increased fear which has gathered over the generations. ‘Hitching’ was once a viable and acceptable form of transportation. In the early ’60s my family had only one car so at the age of 10 and younger I would, with Mum’s approval, hitch to little league games, movies, or anywhere else I needed to go.

By the time I was in my mid-to-late 20s I had hitched across the country a couple of times. I had countless good experiences and only a few bad. Perhaps that is why I’m still doing it.

My mate and I like to do ski tours where we begin on a mountain pass, ski and climb a few glades and bowls and end up about lower down the same pass. Generally we ski out to the road where I’ll leave my gear and mate then hitch-hike alone back to our car then return for her.

We have done this for years in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and California. To be honest I’m a fairly nonthreatening person to pick up. I’m middle-age, clean cut and I’m wearing ski clothing. But that said I often have to wait a while until someone has the inclination to give me a ride.

I was doing that just last week on a mountain pass close to home. We skied out to the road, I left my skis, pack with Ellie and walked to the highway and stuck out my thumb. It took a while but eventually an older couple picked me up.

After I told them I was only going about 7 miles to the top of the pass the first thing the lady said was, “Aren’t you worried about hitch hiking?” I told her I was not, but I had to ask, “Aren’t you afraid to pick up hitch hikers?” The lady said that she was but her husband insisted. But she added quickly, “But I agreed because you don’t look like a scary person.”

Were I thinking correctly I would have said simply, “Thanks.” Rather than, “It depends who you ask.” I think I might have ruined it for the next guy hitch hiking……………

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores or

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