On The Road
Doug is hitchhiking. Again.
The first time I hitchhiked, I was only 5 years old.
Was he by himself, I wonder, or with a parent? I feel like that’s an important distinction.
Anyway, Doug prays for a ride to California with “someone normal.” He explains that he’s had terrible experiences hitchhiking (this is the most realistic thing he’s said all book). One would think that after his first horrifying experience (a driver smoking pot swerving all over the road.) he wouldn’t have done it again.
Sometimes Homosexuals picked me up and tried to make bargains.
(This is another thing about the book that strikes me as realistic. I mean, have you seen pictures of young Doug? If I was heterosexual, I’d totally do him.)
In any case, Doug gets a ride to California…. with a Jesus freak.
So much for a ride with “someone normal.”
But poor Doug has had so many bad experiences that, to him, this seems absolutely normal. This experience, in fact, is why Adult!Doug picks up as many hitchhikers as possible, to witness to. He encourages his congregation and other listeners to do so. My parents sat me down and told me why this was shitty advice, and that I should never pick up a hitchhiker. And I haven’t. Better safe than sorry.
In any case, this driver preaches to Doug pretty much all the way to Calamityfornia. He pays for all of Doug’s meals and hotel rooms along the way. The driver picks up a second hitchhiker, and, upon finding that he is a Christian, leaves him $300*!
Note to self: if I ever wind up homeless, tell everyone that I’m a Christian. You get more help that way.
Doug tells the driver that he’s going to California to live in a cave.
“Who are you going to live with?” [asked the Driver]
“No one. I’m going to live by myself.” I answered, almost defiantly.
“What are you talking about? You can’t be more than 17.”
“I’m 16,” I told him. “Anyway, I’ve been on my own for years now. I’ll be alright.”
This is an outright lie. Doug has been on his own for a little bit, but it’s hardly been “years.”
In any case, Doug just told the man that he is 16 and he is running away to a cave to live by himself. Even in 1973, wasn’t this grounds for someone to be making a call to Child protective services?
The Driver isn’t terribly happy with this latest development, but gives Doug $40.
Then we get this concluding paragraph:
Hey! God gave me all 4 things I prayed for that day in Oklahoma: A ride to California, food, and money—well, almost all four. I wasn’t sure the guy was normal!
(Drink! Doug and I agree on something! Chug!)
Because God is a VENDING MACHINE, Y’ALL!
Ok, so, Doug Batchelor was 16 in 1973. According to My handy dandy inflation calculator, $40 in 1973 is worth $216.43 today, in 2016. So, basically, this is a man who picks up hitchhikers and gives them not just money, but a lot of money.
All I gotta say is that Doug was very fortunate, because, in my experience, you should always beware of strangers bearing expensive gifts.
* My handy dandy inflation calculator says this translates to $1,623.22