Don’t Tell Your Father

Faith Senie
Bolton, MA

When I became a teenager, there was a rash of stories on the news about people being killed, hijacked, or molested by hitchhikers.  Both my parents made it very clear to me that picking up hitchhikers was a Very Bad Idea.

Mom and I were driving into town on a bitterly cold winter day.  Temperatures were just barely into the single digits; it was windy, and snow was threatening.  About a mile from town, we came across two men walking toward town.  They had a working-class look about them, wearing jeans, work boots, etc.  They were both wearing jackets that looked more suitable for 30° weather.  No hats.  No gloves.  They looked miserable.

As we drove toward them, one turned and stuck his thumb out, looking hopeful.  Mom slowed, sighed, and then said to me, “Don’t tell your father.”

Don't Tell Your FatherShe stopped the car, rolled down the window, and told the men to hop into the back before they froze.  The two gratefully climbed in.  Mom asked where she could drop them off, and they named a spot in town that was very public, and had a warm coffee shop nearby.  She drove them there and they climbed out.  Not much conversation, but many, many thanks from the men as they climbed out of the car.  As we drove off, she said again to me, “Remember, don’t tell your father!”

She figured the only people out in that sort of weather weren’t looking for trouble, but simply had to be somewhere. We never spoke of it again, but I still remember that afternoon all these years later, and how my mother’s compassion for someone freezing overrode her concern for safety for herself and her daughter.

Originally published as HeroicStories #872 on May 6, 2016

3 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Your Father”

  1. I hear you!!! I too shy away from picking up hitch hikers unless the wx is bad. The ones I like to pick up, in my truck, are a couple with a dog and lots of baggage……..Been there…

  2. I too am cautious about hitch hikers. But, years ago, at an airport to pick up a dog, our car stopped working. A driver of an 18 wheeler, picked up my husband, our dog and me and drove us over 100 miles. So, I am grateful that there are people who see someone in trouble and offer help. And I wish we lived in a world where everyone could do that.

  3. Some 40 years ago I was returning from a business trip about 3 am on a rain, rainy night heading home to New Orleans. As I was passing Baton Rouge, spotted a soaking wet hitch hiker on the interstate. I figure it was a student and stopped to give him a lift.
    As the 80 mile trip evolved I learned that he was heading back to a mental asylum. He knew he needed to return for more treatment in dealing with his problem. And yes I drove him back to the hospital.
    I figured if it was important enough to hitch hike 80 miles in a severe storm, it was important to get him to treatment. Today, when I read of the huge number of teen suicides, I shudder to think what might have been the outcome if I had ignored his plight.


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