For better or worse I have done a lot of waiting, I guess we all have. Right now you are probably waiting for me to get to the point. I could just make a list of all the memorable waiting experiences I have had, or just the worst or the best. Waiting for my kids to be born or my wife to arrive to the church would be good ones. I could make a pretty long list of bad ones I’ll save for a more than 500 words kind of day.
One thing I have done many times that day its very nature defines waiting is hitchhiking. There was a time in life, sorry I mean season, when hitchhiking had a very romantic allure to it for me. It symbolized both adventure into the unknown as well as faith in God and my fellow human. It was before the huge media wave of strangers are crazy, don’t talk to people. I grew up walking to school from the age of 5. I don’t know if I ever saw a classmate get picked up from school, unless they were going to the doctor, or maybe from the principle’s office after a fight or something. Like most things I started out with little rides. Waiting for the bus to go home from a friend’s on a Sunday and just stuck out my thumb thinking, if I saved 10 minutes of waiting in the cold what could it hurt. Then when I moved out west I learned about destination thumbing. Like from the ski resort back into town. Evey one was a skier and everyone was leaving either took a right or a left at the highway. You had something in common with the driver, talk about skiing, and skiers don’t murder skier unless they are skiing, its the skier’s code.
Then I got a real wild idea. I would fly back for my brother’s wedding and hitchhike back home 10 days later, maybe 3,000 miles. It was a great flight, they still fed, for lack of a better word, you on domestic flights back then. The wedding was fun, got to see some old friends and then day 10 arrived. A friend drive me to a highway on ramp heading south, so with backpack in place I took up my position on the side and waved goodbye. What a crazy feeling I had, thank God it was spring and not winter. I had made a sign. I was going to Tahoe, but being a rather cleaver I had put Des Moines on it. I waited so much on that trip its hard to remember how long I waited for that first ride. Looking back it did seem like a long time, but It was not a huge long time. The first ride got me most of the ways to Des Moines and I made it to Tahoe in 3 days, which was pretty impressive. I did a fair bit more of hiking after that, but it was on that trip that I developed my “Happy Craig” dance. Not much of a dance move really, unless I was cold and there were no cars approaching. It was more of a mantra. I just concentrated on singing to myself and praying to God for a ride. I am “Happy Craig” and I am grateful to God and grateful to you. I will make you glad you picked me up. Everyone loves happy people. I have not hitched in a long time and I am afraid I would not recommend it to my kids today, but the waiting and learning to project both inward and outward happiness is a gift I am forever grateful for and use on a daily basis.