on catching rides on dark nights

and other stuff.

I generally don’t stop for hitchhikers. Brett and I picked up a guy on our way back from J-Bay to Knysna one night on our honeymoon. His name was Ray and flip he had a hectic story… just the week before, while driving home from Grahamstown festival he was hijacked by some guys asking for directions, tried to escape and ran his car off the road and lost control, had a gun put to his head, and ended up literally running for his life! Turns out he used to go to a church in Knysna and knew the pastor who brett knew also. We prayed with him and he offered us a place to stay anytime we are next in the area.

So as a rule I don’t often stop for hitchhikers, but I have recently started stopping when I see a girl walking along the road at night alone. This happens a lot in Stellenbosch and while none of them have taken me up on offer for a lift yet, I will keep asking.

Last night at 11pm I was driving along Tokai Main Road on my way home to Stell. I saw four young girls (all under sixteen) running along the side of the road. They were dressed pretty scantily. I pulled over and asked them where they were going and when they said “just down the road”, I told them to cross the road and get in the car and I would drive them. Which they did. We drove a way down, took a right, and into a dark hardly lit neighborhood, passing a lonely park, and then down to some house. I dropped them off and waited, surprised that they didn’t ring the bell. One girl came back to say they were fine and I could leave since their parents were coming in 15 minutes. I said I would wait. I ended up following them as they walked to the next party, where I handed them over to the mother in charge there. I also told them they were incredibly stupid.

The point is this: I think more people need to take more responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of other people. Those four girls were in an incredibly stupid and dangerous situation and I cannot imagine if I had driven past them and read in the papers this morning that they had gone missing or something had happened to them. So i took the time out of my night, went out of my way, and made sure they were safe – way beyond what it was even reasonably my “responsibility” to do.

I generally don’t give lifts to men ever. Except for one night after theatresports in kalk bay where I offered the car guard a lift back to retreat. He works everynight in Kalk Bay, taking hours to walk to work and back in the early hours of the morning. He earns, on a good night, 50rand. Giving him a lift was a tiny thing I was able to do for him.

I know a lot of people will think this is stupid. Maybe it is. I have a couple of rules about offering people lifts – little things that I think minimise the risk of things going bad. 1. I generally don’t give men a lift at any time of the day or night. 2. I generally don’t give more than 1 person a lift at a time so that there isn’t someone sitting behind me where I can’t see them and where I have no control and am outnumbered. 3. I generally don’t give lifts on lonely roads, at night, or to areas I don’t know. 4. I always let Brett know when I am thinking of giving someone a lift or if someone is in my car. I tell him what kind of person it is, where I am, where we are going and how long it will take approximately. I think calling him is a good idea so that the person hears that I am telling someone who knows where I am.

It’s a really little thing to be able to do for someone. Whether it’s someone desperately trying to get to work on time when the trains are on strike so that they don’t lose their job. Or four stupid little girls who are completely naive and oblivious to how unwise they are being. Or some guy who works longer hours than you do earning what you probably earn in an hour. Or a mother walking with her kids in the rain back from school. Cos yes, there are bad folk out there but there are a lot more good folk who are genuinely just in need of a lift or someone to be watching their back. So take the precautions, definitely. Don’t be unwise. If you are christian, be extra sensitive to the Spirit. Tell someone what you are doing. Pray. But let’s start looking out for people more….