Fear Factor: September 16, 2012

Hitched a ride yesterday to the Farmer’s Market with a cooler full of eggs to sell.  Maybe I shouldn’t count it toward the research, since my neighbor saw me and gave me the ride.  Thanks Neighbor!  One benefit of Lawrence OnBoard is to get better acquainted with my neighbors, so that part worked out great.

Lately, I’ve been telling a lot of people about Lawrence OnBoard and my experiences with the field research.  People who have hitchhiked before usually say something like “Cool, how did it go?”  But a lot of people ask “weren’t you afraid?”  My answer is, “not really”.

Well, actually I am a little afraid of certain things.  I am afraid that some driver texting on their cell phone might go off the road and run me over.  I am afraid that I might accidentally leave something in a stranger’s car.  I worry that a driver might drop me off in a place where it’s hard to get a ride. What I don’t seem to fear is getting in strangers’ cars.

99% of people out there are good, or at least harmless.  Now, imagine if you will that you are an axe murderer looking for a victim.  First of all, would you choose your victim off the roadside in broad daylight with other cars passing by?  Would you decide, in the 10 minute ride to the grocery store, to abduct your rider, who has been unfailingly polite and friendly?  Would you not be deterred by the fact that your rider has just texted your license plate number in to her people, who will be expecting her home soon?  Would you also be able to wrestle your victim’s cell phone out of her hand while trying to stay on the road?  Sounds like a lot of trouble to me.

My other fear, at least at first, was that nobody would pick me up.  Fear works both ways and a lot of people are still clinging to the “stranger danger” mindset from childhood.  It helps to look and act non-threatening and respectable.  Smile.  Nod at passing cars.  Wear business casual.  Comb your hair.  Carry a smart looking sign board with legible handwriting.  Getting the word out that our OnBoarders are vetted for safety will help.

Some wise person once said “Be not afraid”.  Fear is sometimes helpful, but too often it gets in the way of living life the best way possible.