Over the years, in between the performing and the comedy, I have found myself stranded at a great many places. To make a long story short, I have had some adventures on the road. Yes, I have done some hitchhiking.
My first big hitchhiking experience was when I was twenty three years old. I was gigging out in Long Island, Port Jeff to be exact. I had the directions to the hotel where I was to be performing. As I was walking down the street I saw that the directions took me off the beaten path, to the middle of the woods. I had no idea where I was going, what I was doing. That was sort of the metaphor for that point in my life. Only eighteen months before I had been fired from a retail job and tried to do other things but the universe always sent me here. Then I heard behind me, “You lost?” It was a woman and her two small children. They didn’t look like killers. I told them where I was going and they were alarmed I was hiking through the woods so late at night and offered me a lift. They let me in and took me four blocks, saving me a hellacious hike with the lions, tigers, and bears. They were nice people. I liked them.
Next hitchhiking adventure was much less pleasant. It was about a year later when I was doing a show in Long Island. It was a good night performance wise, but the promoter got way creepy. When this (male) promoter passed me he didn’t have to accidentally not so accidentally pat my ass. In addition he would make inappropriate sexual comments. When I looked grossed out he would say, “Just kidding. You are a comedian, take a joke.” It wasn’t a joke when he invited me to the back of the venue to talk where he was dark and he pressed his disgusting body against mine. He told me my material was too bitter and he could fix me as he attempted to slip his tongue in my mouth. My fight and flight took off as I pushed him off of me, got my stuff, and ran. I didn’t know where I was going, expect I was gone. Walking down the block I looked scared and panicked. Again, a woman with two girls pulled over and asked if I was alright. I just starting crying and they took me to the nearest train. I was scolded because the area was so dangerous at night. Nonetheless I took the scolding. I was just glad that some male promoter who told me I was funny just to get me into bed couldn’t take sexual advantage of me. He could save his sexual appetite for the local gentlemen’s club and their cottage cheese strippers and I could go home.
The following hitchhiking adventure was sort of sweet. I had just finished doing a puppet show at a country club when I had packed it in and was ready to go. The booker was sort of disorganized and had two helpers that were clearly on drugs and nodding off. As a result I had to pick up slack when the people were doing the limbo and nudge her so she knew not to nod off in front of the children. Then the booker not only had the nerve to scold me but wrote me a check that later bounced. Walking home from this hell, I saw an older couple driving along. They asked if I needed a ride and I said yes. The Glenn Miller Orchestra blasting led me to believe they were harmless. We laughed about old movies and talked about how they had a granddaughter my age. They said that I looked like the puppet girl from Rachael Ray. When I confirmed my identity they said Jerry Springer was mean. That was the first time I was recognized. McAwesome.
A few months later I was in some part of Jersey doing a gig when I was walking down a deserted road and got lost. There was no sidewalk, only woods for the most part. The destination was up the road, a car shop to deliver a telegram to one of the guys who worked there as a mechanic. As I straggled near the side of the road a truck pulled up and asked if I needed a lift. I eyed him suspiciously. This was how young women died. He asked me where I was going. I mentioned the car shop up the road. He smiled and told me he knew the guys and they were all good. He named them all, including the one I was to sing to. I began to soften, got in his truck, and got a ride. He was very nice, dropped me off, and then waited around until I was done. The gig went well and he took pics. He asked me where I was headed and I mentioned the train aka middle of nowhere. He gasped and informed me trains only can every so often and that he was going to Hoboken and offered to take me there. During our hour ride to Hoboken he told me he was a skateboarder and hobby celebrity autograph seeker. I got home in a timely manner. Plus I had a good laugh. Did I mention he even bought me a coffee? Bonus!
About two and a half years later, I was in Staten Island getting ready to do a taping for a cable access show. It was a reunion of sorts. I was getting to see David, my New York Dad, Joanie, and of course Nevin. It was sort of a homecoming because I hadn’t been to CTV in years, and since then I had been on major television so it was homegirl does good kind of. Nevermind I was still broke as hell. I ended up on the wrong side of the building, the repair side. Seeing I was lost, one of the men who was rather good looking offered me a lift to the other side of the parking lot. He was good looking so I was mentally retarded at the moment. Plus if he was going to kill me there were an awful lot of witnesses. I chatted, flirted, and then was heartbroken when I saw the wedding ring. But he took me to where I needed to go.
Fast to a few months later. It’s spring and I am in Jersey delivering a telegram. I am unsure of where I am going except the road splits in a certain way. It was starting to rain. The clouds were getting darker and scarier. Just then a woman pulled up and asked if I was lost. I told her sort of, I had no clue where I was going so I told her the address. She stopped and said, “Oh sweetheart, you are way off.” She invited me in her car. Old and sweet, I safely assumed she wasn’t an axe murderer. She took me to where I needed to go. I thanked her and saw a Bible on her floor. Maybe God sent an angel my way to keep me from danger. I don’t know. I never did get her name. But some force was perhaps watching over me that day.
One time I had a crazy two-fer. On my way to a Jersey chicken I heard, “APRIL BRUCKER!” I look over and it’s the producer for the show I am doing that evening. He ends up giving me a ride to the destination. We talked and that was McAwesome. We both remarked on how random this whole thing was. What were the freaking odds? On the way back I was lost and ended up getting a ride from a pizza delivery guy who knew no English but gave me a coupon for free chicken wings. After that, I got a slice of anchovie pizza and ended up having a good set that night. Some days are just red letter that way.
Now here I was last Friday. Hiking by the highway in Jersey. It was something out of a film noir because I am currently going through a certain film noir situation aka an out of control fan who has seen me on television has stepped over the line. The police are involved and it has been interesting. Lost, I saw a Fed Ex truck and asked him for directions. He told me it was a long way down the hill and he gave me a ride. He said I had to lay low cause Fed Ex guys can’t do that. I asked him if he was a murderer. He laughed and said no. I ended up giving him the post card to order my book and got out to do my singing telegram.
I guess I wrote this blog because I just want these people to know that wherever they are, I appreciated what they had done for me. More often than not they were good to me with wanting no reward in return. I could have been some nut that robbed them, but of course I am just a harmless eccentric with puppets and costumes. They could have raped, robbed, and killed me but didn’t. Just as there is evil in this world, there is also a benevolence. In our jading as adults, we must not forget that selflessness, especially when the world tempts us to be so selfish.
As the tide starts to change in my life, and people who saw me once upon of time as their chicken or in some dingy basement see me on television or wherever else, I want them to know that their generosity was not forgotten. That I didn’t forget. Someday when I have my mansion (hopefully soon) I will remember the person who gave me a lift when I was about to hike through the dark woods/running from a creepy man/down the road from the train/walking down a desolate road/headed the wrong way in the rain/going down a steep hill. You get the picture. If there is ever an opportunity to return the favor I will.
In the words of Blanche Dubois, “I always depend on the kindness of strangers.”
Author of I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
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