I do pick up hitchhikers sometimes, especially when I drive alone on long trips. I have space in the car, they need a ride, and I enjoy having company. Usually it helps to pass the time.
A while back, I picked up a man with his thumb out. We were heading down the same freeway and he seemed like a nice fellow. As he climbed into the passenger seat, he thanked me for the ride and settled in. We had a nice conversation for a while and discovered we had a lot in common.
After a while though, he opened my glove compartment and started digging around. "Don't you have any granola bars? I'm hungry." I apologized and said no, I did not. So he dug into his backpack, pulled out a bag of chips and ripped them open. Some spilled on the floor and he didn't bother to pick them up, carelessly grinding them into the carpet with his boots. He didn't offer to share so I didn't ask.
When I wasn't watching, he began searching through my road maps and took two or three and slid them into his backpack. I was listening to a favorite CD but he must not have liked it, because soon he was fiddling with the dial until he found a radio station he liked. He couldn't hear well so cranked up the volume.
Over the next few hours, he complained about the uncomfortable seat, why I didn't pass that truck, and he wanted me to pick up every other hitchhiker we passed. The complaints continued so I asked him, "So why don't you just get your own car?"
That's when the lecture began. Cars are evil. Cars will destroy the planet. There should be fewer highways and more public transportation. How could I defend contributing to the destruction of our world? I wondered why he chose to ride in my car instead of buying a bus ticket but tried to be polite and kept my thoughts to myself.
I needed to stop so pulled off the highway. "What are you doing?" he demanded.
I replied that I needed to buy gas and that I wanted to stop to stretch my legs a bit. As we pulled out of the gas station, I wasn't that surprised he didn't even consider contributing to the cost. But as I headed for the rest area, he insisted that this was unfair, he needed to be in Philadelphia in an hour and that it seemed I was deliberately trying to interfere with his plans. I stopped anyway, walked a bit (glad actually to be away from him for a few minutes), and then returned to the car.
When I got back to the car, he had slid into the driver's seat and told me he would take over, that I was not a good driver, was not being considerate enough of his needs, and that he wasn't going to stand for it. Not only that, but he had rounded up some people from the Rest Area, convinced them I was treating him poorly, and all of them were yelling at me to let him drive the car and to stop conspiring against him.
I clutched the keys in my right hand and refused to surrender them. "You didn't want your own car but you want to condemn me for having one. You don't like how I do things but you're happy to take all the advantages you can."
"Listen, Bernie," I said, "you don't get to hijack my car."