I am a firm believer that hitchhiking is possibly one of the most stupidest and ridiculous decisions a person could ever make in their life. For starters, you have no idea who the person is behind the wheel that has stopped for you. For all you know, he or she could be a crazy lunatic who just so happens to be planning your demise by kidnapping you, taking you out somewhere deserted and murdering you in cold blood. You have already made it so easy for them. You’re in their car and you didn’t even put up a struggle. It is definitely not a wise decision to be jumping into stranger's cars.
But what happens when you are in a foreign country with three other friends and the last bus has already pulled away from the sidewalk as you and your friends drunkenly stagger towards the moving bus in the early hours of new years day, knowing there is absolutely no way you could all catch the bus in time? What are your options besides allowing yourselves to get used to the idea that desperate situations require stupid solutions, so you all decide to hitchhike and let a crazy little non English/Czech speaking Asian man pick you all up in a 1970s pizza van.
That’s exactly what happened to me on New Year’s Eve in Prague 2014. I had been celebrating with friends and family in Old Time Square, when we all realised that we may actually miss the final bus to return home. So we did the only thing we could, we ran.
Running in high heels through snow in winter is not the best idea ladies and any gentlemen who prefer the stiletto style. I warn you all now, in case you ever get yourselves into a similar situation, do not run in high heels. In the end, running barefoot seemed like the better option due to the alcohol consumption permitting our numb feet not to care, and our unintelligent brains not to feel the pain. Did I mention that Prague City has cobbled roads, so they certainly don’t help with avoiding sprained ankles? Then again, the Czech absinthe and champagne we all drank that night certainly protected us from any major injuries. That said, it's time to return to the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van.
We missed the final bus and watched it drive off without us as our toes began to consider how incredibly cold snow was. We were about 15km away from home when we realised we had no other choice but to try and hitch a ride with someone since there were no taxis, no buses or trams still going, and no people driving on the road to pick up four Absinthe drunk hitchhikers. Until the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van stopped to pick us up. That's when we knew that our new years adventure had only just begun.
At first we thought the van could be a possible hallucination, but upon further investigation; or upon wiping our glassy eyes, we decided that we were not in fact mistaken and there really was a crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van. He pulled up, opened his door and had a big smile on his face.
Great we thought, he wants to murder us and can't believe his luck. One of my friends started to speak Czech to him to tell him where we needed to go but he shook his head not understanding. He didn't speak Czech even though he was clearly a crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van in the centre of Prague. I mean how could he be there if he didn't speak Czech? It was as if he fell out of the sky from some time warp travel machine.
I decided to try English on him and well, you guessed it, he didn't understand. My cousin then proceeded to have a game of charades with him and took the form of a lunatic on the side of the road who had just escaped from a mental asylum; at least that's what he looked like to me. At first I thought he was doing his best Thomas the Tank Engine impersonation, but he was just trying to convince the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van that we needed a ride in the direction he was already traveling.
Well that was it, finally progress was achieved because the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van started smiling and nodding and proceeded to throw Vietnamese at us so fast that we could barely catch our breath, but it was freezing cold and we needed warmth so we nodded too and hopped into the van and hoped for the best.
The crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van took off so fast that we all started flying around in the back of the van, together with with around 20 empty pizza boxes and we could do nothing but laugh because we were either on our way to our demise thanks to the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van, or about to be killed by him in the car that was traveling around 140km per hour down the icy streets of Prague. If that wasn't enough to hysterically laugh about, the Vietnamese music that was playing in the car was. Those Tibetan bells and that hauntingly pained voice was something I will never forget. I felt like I needed to be sitting on a rock in the Himalayas praying to the gods. I felt like that anyway because in that moment I really did think we were going to die in that van.
Anyway, moving on with the journey, our block of units had been and gone by the time we recovered from fits of laughter and had to explain to the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van as best as we could that we needed to go back. We ended up on a giant round about going around in circles about three times until we got the right exit and were on our way back. In that moment I couldn't help thinking about Chevy Chase in National Lampoons European Vacation because that was exactly what we were going through. Round and Round we went.
In the mean time the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van continued his story for us which we didn't understand a word of but just kept nodding and happily listened to his chit chat and laughter before we all screamed STOP!!!!! at the same time.
The crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van slammed his brakes on and once again the boxes and our bodies went flying in the back. Did I mention there were no seats, let alone seat belts in the back? It was a delivery van, of course there wasn't.
Another laughing fit hit us so hard when we stopped, that now even the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van was laughing and couldn't stop. The funniest part was that we couldn't even communicate but laughter seems to always be a universal form of communication.
We got out of the van and bowed to him like they do in a martial arts film while hysterically continuing to laugh and thanked him over and over again. I couldn't help it and I hugged the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van, because it's in my nature to be very open with people, and the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van blushed and even gave me two pizzas which he was possibly delivering to someone at 2am on a new years eve (bad luck to them) or possibly taking home for himself.
We waved goodbye and stood there listening to his strange music at full volume while we breathed the cold air and enjoyed the smell of the pizza we were about to take home and devour, while we contemplated what on earth just happened for the last half hour.
I guess the moral of the story here isn't about an adventure. It is more about the dangers of hitchhiking, and no matter what the situation is, don't do it. We were four adults in a situation where it was justified and if I was the crazy non English/Czech speaking Asian man with his 1970s pizza van, I probably would have been more afraid of us than we were of him. But always remember, don't risk being reckless and never hitchhike, even if this story did make you laugh just a little.