“Let’s pick up the next hitchhiker,” I say. I’m venturing out because I’ve never told him that I think picking up hitchhikers is an awesome thing to do. So many people think every hitchhiker is a potential serial killer that is going to attack you while you’re driving.
“Yeah, that sounds fun,” my husband says.
We were driving down Kuhio Hwy from Hanalei to Poipu Beach. Kauai was the best vacation we’d ever had so far. We stopped in every town, looking for the authentic Hawaiian experience, hitting antique shops and small diners. We even stopped at a house off the highway where a family was selling barbeque in their front yard.
“There’s one,” he said.
“That didn’t take long,” I say and smile.
I pull over and my husband rolls down his window. “Hop in,” he says. He doesn’t bother with asking where the guy is heading. There’s one highway in Kauai and we’re heading his direction.
We do the first bits of small talk - Hi. How you doing? Where you heading? – before we go into asking about the guy’s life and what brought him to Kauai in the first place.
“It’s a long story if you have time to hear it,” he says.
“We’ve got another hour on this road – we’re your audience for the next hour,” I say.
As he talks, the hitchhiker grows more and more tired. He tells us his life story, from the start of high school through his next 40 years. He’s been a criminal, a fighter, a husband, a father and now a Christian missionary, selling books about Jesus. By the time we get to the end of his story, he’s slipping into sleep.
My husband and I are feeling more awake and refreshed with every minute we listen. After the hitchhiker curls up and falls to sleep, I look at my husband.
“Let’s drop him off at a church – he’s a missionary, after all,” my husband says.
We drive a few more miles until we see a small, wooden church right off of the highway. It has a shaded overhang and a bench out front.
“This looks nice,” I say and pull over.
My husband opens the back door of the car and shakes the missionary awake. The missionary looks at him groggily.
“What was I saying?” he asks. Then he looks at my husband and says, “Hey, where am I? Umm…do I know you?” he asks.
“Come on, big guy,” my husband says. “This is your stop.” My husband helps him out of the car and walks him over to the bench.
I can overhear the missionary saying, “I can’t remember anything, right now. Did I drink? I can’t even remember my name.”
My husband gives the man a few reassuring pats and walks back to the car.
“That was very tasty,” he says when he returns to the car.
“Hitchhikers are the best. I’m so glad you agreed to pick one up. They all have such great stories, so many memories to eat,” I say.
“Yeah, it’s so much better than spending hours at a bar, getting little memories like appetizers,” he says.
“Let’s pick one up on our way to Waimea Canyon tomorrow. It’ll be nice to hike on a full stomach.”
Yep, I love Kauai – people are so kind and open here. This vacation is going to be the best ever.