HitchingMy oldest attends college an hour away – from door to door is actually a tad less than an hour. We’ll say 54 minutes. That being said, hubby still thinks it’s a colossal waste of gas and time to pick her up and bring her home for the weekend when her old mom is missing her. And it made me think back to my college days.

I lived in northern New Jersey, and attended University of Delaware. It was a 2+ hour trek down the Jersey Turnpike & I95. Yeah, neither mom or dad were picking me up for the weekend. If I wanted to go home, I had to find a ride. Enter the U of D Ride Board.

The Ride Board was hung in the student center – a large, wooden placard with a map of the US painted on it, divided into colored zones. There was a little box that corresponded to each zone that contained cards with folks who were traveling to that destination, or in need of a ride to that destination. When I had a hankering to get out of bobbed-hair-preppy-sweater Dodge and head north, this is where I went to find a way home.

So think about this – young, pretty college girl is looking for a total stranger to drive her 2.5 hours up the Jersey Turnpike. That alone is a scary thought. But half the time they’d drop me off somewhere odd…like a rest stop or a mall…and my parents would have to meet me there.

And remember, this is before cell phones, so if mom was late or we ran into traffic, there was no way to communicate. You just sat and waited…and worried.

When I was able to find a ride, I’d usually have to lug  my bags to their dorm. Yeah, there was no “hey, I’ll pick you up at 5!” It was more like, “Be outside X Hall at 5 or we leave without you.” Sometimes the car was filled with folks who all knew each other, and I just sat in the back forced to listen to their conversation and shitty music while I watched southern NJ fly by and handed over cash for gas at each rest stop.

Or worse, sometimes it was just you and the driver…talk about uncomfortable. You can only ask “what’s your major?” once, and the answer wasn’t going to fill 2 hours.

Then there was the trip back to worry about. I’d usually spend the whole weekend at home with a little nagging voice saying, “what if they don’t show up…what if they don’t show up?” Then mom or dad had no choice but to make the 5 hour round trip drive.

But somehow I managed to survive the U of D Ride Board – I probably used it a dozen times over my 4 years at college, and I was never propositioned, abducted or left hanging on the trip back.

There are tons of things we think back on and say, “It’s a wonder I reached adulthood.” Bikes with no helmets, long trips with the unused seatbelt dangling by the door next to you, unsupervised trips into New York City on the bus.

It makes you feel sorta lucky sometimes.