17,415. If we were talking money I’d be richer. If this number represented how many books I’ve read, I would probably be smarter. In fact, I’ve become wealthier and wiser. It is, roughly, the amount of kilometers I have spent cruising highways and byways in someone else’s vehicle. Cars of all makes and models, buses, trucks, trains, scooters… ten countries, seven languages and a dozen road companions (though more than half were trecked alone).
A french friend boasted to me recently that he had covered more than 30,000kms with his thumb. It is not the digits that interest me, but, for a laugh, I calculated my own. The experiences, friendships, smiles and lessons learnt are what keeps in my memory of course, and no symbol, mathematical or otherwise would do to express these. 248,785 is a number with more weight to me: the litres saved on petrol from hitchhiking those 17 thousand kilometers.
“If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself and my shortcomings and inconsistencies do not affect the truth of my statement”
For those of you who continue to insist that ‘autostop’ is dead, or dangerous, or impossible, and who refuse to hear the stories… stare into these figures, mine and others of much more grandeur, and realise the truth. If what you seek is freedom, if where you want to go is further than you can buy, if you wish to understand humanity and restore you’re faith in it… follow the dotted white line, it will take you there and beyond.