I made it to a diner just at dusk to get some coffee and kill some time so I wouldn't go to bridge too early. Some people go to bed; I go to what ever the closest thing to a structure I have near where I'm sleeping. Last night was a bridge. I also use "going to bridge" and "getting my troll on" interchangeably. As I sat there nursing a cup of coffee some splendid example of a human being anonymously bought me, I decided I didn't particularly feel like getting my troll on. Actually, not even a little bit. I just wasn't in the mood. And boy can I be a moody drifter...
The hours crept by while I busied myself on my little laptop. I didn't even bother flirting with the waitresses (sorta my thing). I can't even say with a straight face that I accomplished anything productive whiling away the night surrounded by a steadily rotating crowd of drunks. My eyes grew heavy and my thoughts dimmed. I really shoulda got my troll on.
I looked outside and realized the sun was up, but I couldn't see it, the fog was just too thick. But light it most certainly was, and that meant it was time to hit the ramp. I finished the last of my fourth pot of coffee and shouldered my gear. I was in for a long day.
I caught a ride after nearly an hour of toying with the idea of gaffing off the Road for the morning and taking a snooze under some cedar trees. His name was Greg(?), and he was a very well mannered and delightfully spoken internal medicine doctor on his way home from a conference. We hit it off, and our topic of conversation seemed to change with every passing mile until I got out at some sort of highway interchange. I'm still not certain where it was, but maybe 30 something miles South of Eugene. Sleep deprivation has a way of clouding the mind that way.
An interchange is a terrible place to catch a ride no matter where you are, but nobody hitchhikes for its predictability. You work with what you have. I stood the White Line for a few hours watching the cars scream by me, when a pair of Road Dogs came walking in the same direction I was hitching. They were typical of what you expect to see in young hitchhikers. Shabby, disheveled, strung out. Like Lieutenant Dan with a backpack instead of the wheel chair. To anyone else they are nothing more than a couple of burned out 20 somethings, desperately clinging to the only life they were capable of making for themselves, feeding off the fat of society. To them, they are the masters of their own universe. And they had been walking since sun up. I was out of water so I traded them some pipe tobacco for a half a canteen. It was a good trade.
I stood leaning into my pack frame with my waist, my right arm only half extended, my thumb leering in the direction I intended to go. I don't know how long I slept standing there, but I awoke to a Jimmy pulling up within a couple of feet of me on the shoulder.
After loading my gear into the back I climbed in and met Zack. About my age, he was on a spur of the moment Road trip to see some family in Grants Pass, and escape his pregnant sister in law (who could blame the poor guy?). We hit it off as well, and he offered me a jug of water and a sandwich. I declined the sandwich out of fear that I wouldn't manage to stay conscious for the ride. Our talk ranged from how he passed me, and then doubled back to pick me up because he's such a rad fella, to how really NOT cool it is to bang 14 year olds no matter how over developed they might be, to why Drill Instructors stare longingly into their campaign covers.
I finally gave in and ate the sandwich. It was delicious. I could hear myself talking, but I had no control over it. I knew that if I stopped I would slump over into a pile of narcoleptic hobo right there in his passenger seat. And that's just bad form. When he finally stopped to let me out in a parking lot I realized my eyes were closed behind my sunglasses and I had the vague impression I was still babbling about how much fun commercial fishing really is. I'm assuming he left convinced I was on drugs.