An interesting thought bomb hit me last night. I was in San Luis Obispo for the last of the Coast Union High School basketball games, which happened to have been against Mission Prep (we fought a gallant battle), and figured I’d fill up my gas tank there in town and save 40 cents a gallon.
So, I pulled into the station on the corner by the park and noticed two young men hunkered down on the curb at the entrance with a cardboard sign that read, “north—San Francisco.” It was about 9:30, dark and cold.
I pulled up to the pump and started transferring the liquid gold into my vehicle while thinking about these two boys. I flashed back to my own road-travels, fondly and otherwise. Suddenly one of the two waifs hollered, “Is anybody going to San Francisco? Otherwise we’re screwed!” I chuckled.
After feeding my left arm into the machine as payment, I pulled through the “islands” and turned back toward the noise. Rolling down my window, I offered some unsolicited advice. “You know, at this hour of the night, no one is going to go up Highway 1 to get to San Francisco. They might go up Highway 101, which you can pick up a couple of blocks back.” I assumed they weren’t from the area, judging by the ill-positioned thumbing spot.
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“Yeah, but no one will pick us up there!” I wondered if this was their first time at this type of excursion. I continued, “Yeah, well, it’s still better to go up the inland route. It might be a degree or two colder. but the coastal route this time of year is just wet. You get wet and there’ll never be any getting warm again.”
“You don’t think anyone will be going this way to go up to San Fran for work in the morning?” Oh, these two were novices.
Figuring they’d never had a job, let alone hitchhiked, I reiterated my suggestion and figured that would be it. “Good luck boys!”
I pulled onto main drag but turned around a couple blocks later when I remembered I happened to have had a couple of blankets in my car I’d picked up at a friend’s house earlier that day to give to the homeless shelter. Good a cause as any…
“Hey, I’ve got a wrap here. You want it?” “Yeah, yeah, that’d be great!” Pulling into a parking space at the pocket-drilling station, I dug out the blanket. I offered them a long (feminine) sweater but they declined. “Hey, it might be nice to put your head on later!” They couldn’t quite lower themselves that far. “I’ve got plenty of layers on. Thanks anyway.”
I could have engaged in a much more lengthy conversation with the lads, but realized my motherly instincts were on high alert and I was too tired by then to be drawn in. “Don’t they know travel patterns, how important it is to stay dry, what absolute basics you need to be a road warrior?” I learned those things in Girl Scouts actually. No common sense these days. No survival skills. What a concept.
Here’s where the bomb struck —why not create video games and apps that teach these skills so, in the event they actually experience real-life, whether for adventure or down-on-their-luck, they have a chance? I don’t know — just a thought.