In this episode, Ann spoke with guest Chris Kim, host of the Faces and Aces: Las Vegas podcast. He shared the story of his first time picking up a hitchhiker on his way to Las Vegas.
Although this story is about Chris’s first time picking up a hitchhiker, it was actually not his first time driving a stranger. While leaving a grocery store, an old Korean woman randomly entered the back seat of his car and told him to drive her to the nursing home. In the predominantly Korean community, Chris was living in at the time, it was common courtesy to help elders. He could not say no to her, so he got into the driver’s seat and took her where she needed to be. This was his first experience having a stranger in his car, albeit against his will. The first time he willingly drove a stranger was when he came across a hitchhiker during a road trip.
Driving to Vegas and Picking up a Hitchhiker
Chris’s story begins in 2016 when he was driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Because the trip time was unpredictable due to traffic, he left at around 4:30 in the morning to beat rush hour. He stopped at a town called Barstow to pick up breakfast, which he normally did on every drive to Vegas. But when he was getting back on the freeway, he noticed a hitchhiker on the shoulder. The man stood with a backpack, multiple walking sticks, and a box with holes. Chris thought about how hot the day was going to be for both the man and the animal that was probably inside the box. Within seconds, he made the decision to pull over and let the man into his car.
Hitchhikers can typically be seen holding up their thumbs for a ride
The man told Chris he was going to Henderson with his cat to see his family. He assumed by the fact that the man had an animal that he valued life, and this motivated him to take them into his car. But then, he noticed the man’s sharpened sticks in the front seat with him and how they looked like weapons. He offered the man one of his breakfast sandwiches in exchange for putting the sticks in the backseat. Luckily, the man agreed and they proceeded on their 3-hour drive without any issues.
Getting to Know a Stranger and His First Hitchhiker
Chris’s first question for the man was how he got to the side of the road in the first place. He told him that after a night of partying, a few girls had ditched him at a restroom in Barstow. The man was homeless, but it was a part of his occupation as a street artist and he often wandered from town to town. He was now looking to go home for a few weeks before his next trip out into the wild.
Chris then asked him about life as a homeless person. How did he eat? The man told him that food is plentiful in America, so it is not difficult to find left overs. They had more pleasant conversations about life and the drive ended up going by quickly. They shook hands and parted ways at a Walmart in Henderson. Chris felt lucky to have met such a good-natured and kind hitchhiker.
Reflecting on Different Lifestyles
The hitchhiker inspired Chris to appreciate the various ways people lead their lives. Although he had responsibilities, others like the hitchhiker had the freedom to explore the world and have great experiences. He emphasizes empathy, and encourages people to put themselves in others’ shoes. He too would like to detach himself from the norm some day by chasing a different lifestyle. But for now, he keeps an open mind towards others’ decisions on how to live life and reminds people to always be kind, even to strangers.
Interested in being a guest? Find out more here.