Winter hibernation modus has set in, so in an attempt to transform lead into gold, I’m doing something productive and going through my enormous Click Clack Gorilla drafts folder. This week I unearthed some hitch hiking stories from the thumb-sponsored tour Katey Sleeveless and I went on together two years ago (shit does time fly!).
If you’ve read a hitch hiking story on this website, you’ve probably read about one of our adventures on that trip. We hitched to Munich and Prague, to Dresden and back. We flew to Spain and stayed at the most gorgeous squat I have ever laid eyes on, where Sleeveless made the only Click Clack Gorilla promotional video in existence. And she later made it solo to Holland despite being picked up by a truck driver hauling a stolen car that the police confiscated during their ride.
Sleeveless wrote this song to commemorate it all, and a very long time ago, I wrote the words you’ll find below the video to commemorate it some more. Talley-ho Kassel, away!
hitch hiker’s day dream
There is a point on every hitch hiking trip when everyone starts to look like someone I saw at the last gas station, like someone I asked for a ride five minutes ago. The business suit in the black Audi station wagon. The green sweater with glasses. The middle-aged blonde in khakis and an SUV. The two clean-cut guys in polo shirts.
“Did you get that guy already?”
“Ummmm?” I squint in his business-suited direction. “No?”
“I’ll go ask him.”
At this point in the trip, the chaos of it all, the improbability that this is ever going to work, and then the surreal euphoria when it does work, again, go straight to my head like a bathtub full of bubbly champagne.
We were on our way to Kassel—at the rest stop called “Kassel”—when the hitch hiking mojo just stopped flowing. No one actually going into the city was stopping here, they were probably all holding out for the city, home, tomorrow to fill up the tank. Cars came in sporadically, and it had started to snow in fat, wet, movie-set flakes. Show-time was approaching (we were on our way to a concert Sleeveless was booked to play that night). Just when we started to think, hey maybe we should call C (the show organizer), he called himself.
“C! We’re really close. At the rest stop called “Kassel.” But no one is going into the city.”
“I’ll come pick you guys up. Give me fifteen minutes.”
Oh sweet chariot of heaven! Oh sweet wanderer’s angel! A person with a car is coming to PICK US UP AND DRIVE US DIRECTLY TO THE PLACE WHERE WE ARE TRYING TO GO. The novelty of this had never been clear to me until this point. Up until this point I had always taken for granted the idea that traveling involved things like a plan, punctuality, and direct rides from point A (home) to point B (destination). The pure sweet shining beauty of something as simple as getting taking directly somewhere, well, you’ll have to come with us next time so you can feel it for yourself.
hitch hiker’s delirium
We had started the trip outside of a gas station in Wiesbaden. A guy on his way to Frankfurt picked us up and dropped us off at “a really good spot he knew,” which, despite the general inconsistency of hitch hiking experiences, always translates to “the worst spot you will ever spend several hours (or days) trying to get out of.” Usually I insist on being dropped at a rest stop I’ve picked out on the map. But this time I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. First rule of hitch hiking: the driver who has picked you up does not have a fucking clue what a “good hitch hiking spot” is and his or her advice on such should be ignored at all costs. Damn it. Some rules are better left unbent.
We were ready to give up and get on a bus we’d seen stopping down the block when a car stopped at the light, rolled down the window, and offered to take us, even though he wasn’t actually going in our direction, even though he had just been planning on driving around the corner. We got in the car and granted him immediate guardian angeldom.
“Was just going to meet up with a friend and do some work. No problem to take you to the next rest stop though. I’m not in any rush.”
“Work? On a Friday night? What do you guys do?”
“We build things.”
“Oh yeah? Like what?”
He dropped us at Wetterau on the A5, over a half an hour out of his way. May he be immortalized in hitch hiking yarns for the rest of eternity.
A polish trucker on his way to Hanau took us to the “Kassel” rest stop, and that is where we were when C called and when the delirium found us. We’d gone from stuck to saved twice in one hour. A car was on the way, and we weren’t going to be late for the show. Not needing to beg anymore rides, we stood beneath the gas station awning and decided to make up a game.
“Let’s see how many games we can make up with our sleeping bags.” I don’t remember whose idea it was, but it became a staple of our waiting-at-a-gas-station entertainment routine.
“Sleeping bag hot dog!” Sleeveless pretended to eat her sleeping bag, which was stuffed in a sausage-shaped, hot-dog-colored bag.
“Sleeping bag catch!” She threw the bag at me, and we tossed it back and forth giggling for a few minutes. “Sleeping bag rodeo!” She unwrapped the bag and swung it lasso-style around her head. Drivers on their way into the convenience store were going out of their way to stay as far away from us as possible.
“Sleeping bag opera!” I struck a dramatic pose, my sleeping bag held up to the heavens like a torch. “Oh sleeeeeeeeping bag!” I sung in falsetto. Sleeveless froze and looked at me like I was contagious. “Oooooh sure, look at me like I’m the crazy one when you were just pretending to eat yours and then swinging it around like a lasso!” I whacked her over the head with my bundle, and we were possessed by the kind of laughter that leaves you crying and breathless.
The show went well, and we got a ride almost-home from a friend of C. Our guardian angel had shown his face, we’d teetered on the brink of delirium, and we’d made it there and back again, again.