The Greater Good: A Hitchhike Perspective

2012, Society  -   26 Comments
Ratings: 8.31/10 from 77 users.

Picking up a hitchhiker is no different than being a taxi cab driver. Taxi cab drivers give strangers rides all the time. It's probably not the safest job in the world but they're just doing their job. It's a social obligation... people should pick up hitchhikers more often.

Some people are picking up hitchhikers because that's nourishing them more than any food, alcohol, weed or anything that could possibly do. But most people will look at you, judge you, think something of you and they will not help you... only because of what is already implied into their own minds.

However, there are many generous people out there that will actually pick you up and give you a ride. Some say that with hitchhiking you're starting to lose prejudices about people, and you'll lose the stereotypes about certain countries.

In Eastern Europe hitchhiking is very popular, but in Western Europe and United States in the last 20-30 years people have become richer that they used to be, cars became more affordable, and the need for security has increased a lot. Media has also become more sensationalist and people believe almost everything they hear. They basically believe that around every corner there will be somebody who wants to kill them, rob them or rape them.

The truth is people are not terrified of you hitchhiking but they're terrified of all the images that they've seen in the media about people getting murdered by Craigslist killers. But what are the odds? There are 60 billion Craigslist ads and only one killer.

Thomas Francine, over the past 5 years, has hitchhiked 26,000 miles around the world - visiting places from Texas to Turkey. He has also completed a 1,000+ mile Peace Walk, taking on a different act of kindness each week. In his travels, literally thousands of amazing things have happened, and his experiences have inspired him to create a documentary, research and write pamphlets, and build a project he calls Go Greater Good.

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26 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Max neumegen

    good on you mate. am I mentioned in your film still?

  2. Max neumegen

    "the hitch hiker is there so you can do your good deed for the day." max

  3. Fabien L

    My mom told me she once picked a hitchiker that asked her what she would do if he attacked her. She told him she was the one driving and would aim the car at the closest pole. When he got off he showed her he had a knife. I thought she was damn brave for a woman barely 5 feet tall.

  4. bringmeredwine

    As a teenaged girl I used to hitch hike all over the island of Montreal. All of my friends did it too because most of our parents never considered driving us any where back in those days. If we couldn't get somewhere easily on foot or by bus or train, that's what we did. We were too "cool" to arrive at a party or bar on a bike. (our mom's would have killed us if they knew!)
    I only had trouble with the middle-aged "respectable" business men types. I'm sure they all had daughters of their own which made it so disgusting!
    The truckers, young guys and other rough looking characters who picked me up did it out of concern and were very sweet.
    I can't believe I used to do that and didn't end up dead in a ditch.

    1. Fabien L

      No Elvis Gratton types that had a big garage? :D
      Montreal is actually pretty safe I am not surprised you didn't end up in a ditch.

  5. Jack1952

    I've hitchhiked through most of North America when I was young. If you think hitchhikers can be dangerous, try being a hitchhiker for awhile. People have pulled guns and knives on me, one burly character grabbed me by my hair and tried to force me to perform orally, drivers have swerved at me to try and intimidate me, have had full cans of beer thrown at me by passengers in speeding cars and those are just a few examples. I cringe when I think of the dangers a female hitchhiker is exposing herself to.

    I have a license but don't own a car. I try to pick up hitchhikers, especially young girls, mainly because I want them to reach their destination safely. I have never had a problem, although I have met some wacky characters.

  6. docoman

    I've picked up a few hitchhikers in my time, but I tend to look more scary then they do. (admittedly I usually have a knife etc handy they never know about) Every time, within a few minutes, we've both been happy to share company on the drive. It always gave me a happy feeling inside when I've dropped them off, helping someone is a good thing, for both parties.
    On the flip side, I told my female partner it's not a good idea for her most times.
    The few times I've needed to hitchhike, I always dressed as neat as possible, and made it clear with words and actions straight up (offer a couple $ for fuel etc, treat them and their vehicle with respect) I very much appreciate the favor they're doing me. I've found 'truckies' the best way to hitchhike here in Australia. Find a good truck-stop, and wait for one heading your way.
    It's easy, most peoples favorite subject is themselves... ask a couple questions about them and their job/family, then sit back and listen, nod occasionally and add a relevant question from time to time to show you're listening. I never had any problems myself, especially overseas. Most people are interested in someone new and different I've found when traveling. (requiring a bit more 'input' from me though)

    I can't help but think of Ivan Milat here in Aus. as a bad example though.... a serial killer who targeted foreign backpacking hitchhikers. Apparently he was very charming, right up to the point he turned nasty. (about the time he turned off the highway into the bush apparently)
    Like everything I suppose, there is a risk/reward factor. In my experience, most people are decent.

  7. gaboora

    Yes, humans can be good to each other. And kinder people are the ones who pick up hitchhikers. But to sum up the view by the people interviewed in this film: there is no sin, bad things don't happen, and just be happy. Good thing there is useful advice on the screen at the end to balance things out some.

  8. anqele

    Started driving cab, for a few extra dollars, the summer I turned 19 and I can safely say that one can never tell by appearance or hunches what the passenger is capable of doing. People I hesitated to pick up turned out to be the most decent individuals and vice versa.

  9. cdnski12

    I hitched all over Canada & Europe in the 1970's. I used to pick up a lot of hitchhikers, but now I generally would only pick up young women & very clean looking guys. I don't like people who cage money or meals. I always offered to put gasoline into autos that picked me up and frequently bought meals or coffees for the driver. Be polite & don't smoke or make a mess in a car. Make sure you don't have bad breathe!

    1. timbo

      same as there are a lot of generous people out there, sadly there are a lot of people who abuse that generosity perpetually . This is not right, balance can only be achieved by giving and taking...some people take take take under the false guise of good old hippie 'sharing the love' but are only prepared to share in what other people offer and are tight when an opportunity arises to give, I know, ive lived with many over the years :(

  10. cdnski12

    I seldom pick up hitchhikers anymore. Recently I picked up several and both asked for money. I just can't risk it anymore. I do pickup skiers or boarders en-route to my local ski area.

  11. Paddy

    now and again something terrible happens to hitchhikers but there are dangers in a lot of things in life, even wandering the streets in any large city.
    No matter where you are and what your doing you should always keep your guard and your wits about you.
    There are some pieces of **** in this world of all nationalitys,and races, and although you must always be on your guard, you should never let it blind you to the fact , there are far more big hearted, lovely, and generous , people who mean you well and will go right out of their way to help you along the way.
    Life is full of risks.

  12. oQ

    I hitchhiked from outside of Istanbul to Cide with my then 15 yrs old daughter, a commercial appliances technician picked us up, he was driving to an old people home (looked more like a hospital) to fix a broken fridge. My daughter and I went in with him and met all the old folks, most did not speak a word of English. They all wanted us to stay the night.
    I have this amazing enlarged photograph of her sitting on the side road, cardboard saying CIDE in hand, backpack, straw hat, big smile. Very memorable day!

  13. oQ

    A lot of good saying in this doc. They all have something in common, something I see because I have it too....a certain detachment from "stuff" replaced by a strong will of moving about and meeting people face to face.
    I have hitchhiked a LOT in my life....and did around here as a mode of transportation for two years until I got my old I pick them up.
    One late night driving home I pass a young lady hitchhiking and then thought I got to pick this girl up. I feared for her not for me. So I turn around and pick her up. She tells me she is going in the valley which means I have to drop her off at a junction and leave her in the same situation I just picked her up from.
    SO I get to the junction, turn and continue driving. After driving an other 30 minutes, we arrive at her house, a beautiful place nestled in the mountains, a home she shares with 3 other people. My old station wagon Volvo, is set up with a mattress in the back all summer, I love camping. That's where I slept that night, got up in the bright early morning and went home.

  14. Keith

    People going against hitchhiking is just an emotional response to a bad story. There is risk in everything we do. Someone at some point went out for a walk, they got hit by a car and died...another person went out for a walk and was murdered. I guess going out for a walk is bad, the media should make a big story about how going for walks will get you killed and how dangerous it is...the sad part is if that actually happened people would believe it.

  15. susan g

    "Picking up a hitchhiker is no different than being a taxi cab driver. "

    Ah... actually being a taxi cab driver is very different. Yes! Being a taxi cab driver can most definately be dangerous too. But there are some differences. Taxi cab drivers are either dispatched to pick someone up and in that case a record of where the call came from is kept. If the driver just picks someone up on the street who hails them they have the option to turn them down if they look suspicious. Just looking like they might be a problem isn't the best way to determine anything. The next layer of protection that todays cabbies have inside their cabs is everything from closed circuit cameras, to bullet proof partition between them and the customer. I realize there isn't anything that can provide 100% safety for the cab driver. Still, if you compare those safeguards to the complete lack of anything protecting the driver who picks up a hitchhiker it could make a big difference.

  16. Mark Warren

    I went to jail in Wichita, Kansas 17 times for hitching a ride back in the 70's.

    Ive done my time.

    1. Mark Warren

      My grandfather was a Taxi driver in Wichita Kansas. He was stabbed to death while working in September 1972. I dont think its a good analogy for me.....

  17. James Thomas

    In the end, what matters most, are those moments when -- we are kind.

  18. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    29:35 Is wonderful in hearing the man explain the principal of positive reinforcement, even though he doesn't define it.


  19. Alan Baca

    we use to hitchhike all the time until lies be media made it sound scary- which it wasn't..

  20. Paul Gloor

    "Without courage and bravery towards the first step of adventure, there is nothing"

    1. dufas_duck

      My father-in-law picked up a hitch hiker, got his head caved in, they robbed him, stole his car, and threw him out of the car miles from anywhere.... Sometimes courage is also foolishness...

    2. Paul Gloor

      This is a very unfortunate happening :( and one of the reasons why people are so fed up with everything these days. I hope the hitchhiker was caught and unceremoniously nailed to a wall.

    3. dufas_duck

      The car was found in San Fransisco but the perps were never found...