Hitchhiking constitutes a primary form of transportation for a sizable percentage of the population in the BVI. It is the way many people get to and from work everyday, or get into town to run errands. It is unusual to take a trip in the car and not see someone waiting by the side of the road for a ride.
As a driver, however, I am often flustered by how to interact with hitchhikers, both when I do pick someone up, and when I don't. When I pick someone up, does the burden of conversation fall on me? Or on my passenger? Should I turn the radio down for conversation, or up for listening pleasure? Is the A/C too cold? Where should I drop the hitchhiker off if our paths diverge?
The questions are even more intense when, for a variety of reasons, I don't pick someone up. As a rule, I don't pick up single male hitchhikers. Although the BVIs are very safe, I simply can't get over my US-instilled fears of being alone in a car with a strange man. Also, I generally don't pick up people when I'm within half a kilometer of my destination. Such a short ride is probably going to actually be counterproductive for the hitchhiker. Additionally, there are times when I'm running late for work, and simply don't have time to pick up and drop off another person.
But what do I do when I pass someone by? Shout the reason for my rudeness out the window? Smile, wave, look them in the eye, shrug? Or simply avert my gaze? I know that most hitchhikers are probably passed by several cars before they get a ride, but I still feel guilty whenever I don't stop to pick someone up.
On the whole, though, despite the minor complications that arise for me with regard to hitchhiking, it's kind of nice to live in a country that is safe enough and relaxed enough for hitchhiking to still be such a prominent form of transportation.