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Richmond, it's kind of cliquish. There is a stigma here attached to hitchhiking that there must be something wrong with a person if they are doing this. I really want to dispel that stigma. In foreign countries it's quite common to see people hitchhiking; it's acceptable. I would say a good 50 percent of the people who pick me [up] are actually from foreign countries because they are accustomed to seeing people.

I wish people would not look at me as if I have cooties. Sometimes, especially out here on Broad Street when I'm standing there off the shoulder of the road, people turn way out of the way as if I was going to jump on their car. ?Ý My sister is highly embarrassed. She's mortified that I do this. ?Ý it's another motive for me doing it.

I started doing it about five years ago. I had a car that needed a catalytic converter and new tires and I thought, "That's it. I'm tired of spending money on my car,?VbCrLf and I decided to start hitchhiking. ?Ý I only work part time. It's not dependent on a specific hour of the day, which is another reason I can hitchhike. People who work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. couldn't really do this.

I have never been into alcohol or done drugs. But, gosh, this is what it must be like. I get a rush because people are so nice to me. People show such concern for me. ?Ý I think I'm addicted to it.

The other thing that bothers me is people stopping and they're going out of their way to ask me if I'm OK. They don't realize this [sticks out her thumb] is the universal symbol for hitchhiking. I'll have at least two or three people a week stop and ask: "Are you OK? Is something wrong??VbCrLf No, I'm just hitchhiking.

One day I got a ride from a guy on the way to the opera. He had a nice expensive car and he was all dressed up. I meet people who are wealthy and drive expensive cars and I meet people at the other end of the spectrum. ?Ý

?Ý Usually I get a ride all the way [from her home in Short Pump]. I have a very firm rule: I don't take people out of their way, because we are in a crisis right now as far as gasoline. If someone picks me up, and they are only going half my distance, that's fine. They can at least take me to a bus stop. The closest bus is to Gaskins or Pemberton. ?Ý I [rode the bus] for a few years and I would have to walk home six miles, until one day it dawned on me: I have a thumb. 

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