Reprinted in honor of this day in 2014 when Germany won the Soccer World Cup.
It wasn’t the first time I’d hitchhiked, but I was 18 the last time I did anything this dumb. Or this kind of dumb anyway. Allow me to explain.
I was back in the States and it was the day of the final match of the 2014 World Cup, Germany vs. Argentina. My family unfortunately all had a prior engagement. They took the car that morning and left for a certain Country Fair. 
I, however, remained true to the country of my husband and my adopted home for the last 26 years. I put on face paint, donned my German lei, and headed out the door.
I’d done my research. I knew the exact location of not just a sports bar in town, but a soccer sports bar at that – and I gave myself plenty of time to get there. As I headed down a footpath alongside the main road, a Mercedes Benz honked its horn repeatedly when the driver passed me. I looked at the car and laughed: he had decorated it with the colors of the German flag. I gave him a big wave and headed for my bar.
Ten minutes later I neared the entrance to a park and was astonished to see the car again. It was waiting for me. The driver had rolled down his window. “Do you know where I can go to see the game? I’m driving through on business, on my way to the coast, and I don’t know where to go to watch the match!” His accent was German and anyway he had the (to me) comforting look of a German engineer. 
“I sure can!” I answered. “There’s a sports bar near downtown. You need to turn around, take a left before the ramp for the freeway heading south, go under the overpass, take the one-way road three blocks and….” I stopped talking and considered. The park was empty, and so was the path I was walking on. I thought to myself, “Jadi, this could end up being the last spot anyone might have seen you standing alive before you made one last, stupid, fatal blunder.”
I scrutinized the driver more carefully. And then I made a snap decision.
“It’s complicated. Give me a ride, and I’ll guide you to get to the bar,” I offered. “Otherwise, it’ll take too long to describe.” The surprised dude immediately agreed. He opened the car door and I climbed in.
Fifteen minutes later we claimed two of the very last available seats in the packed bar (the employees were bringing in more chairs when we entered). I sat between the man whose name I no longer remember and a Mexican father and daughter.
The things we do for love (love of soccer, that is). No need to hitchhike this year, which is probably a good thing. I figure I used up my entire quota of guardian-angel-watching-over-you-while-you-do-something-colossally-stupid protection. But I’m definitely watching some soccer. France vs. Croatia, Sunday night! Come early if you want a seat!
NOTES:  Go to my post The Oregon Country Fair for more on the fair. I’m still glad I made it to that bar and saw Germany win. [1a] … especially after watching their pathetic performances since….  The standard German engineer: short hair, clean shaven (99.99% of the time), honest face and slim body wearing jeans, an ironed shirt and a trustworthy earnest expression.
NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2018. Previously published as The Last Time I Hitchhiked was to get to a Bar. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.
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