Annaleen Erasmus

The hitch hikers

It was after the finals.  I had to get to Cape Town from Stellenbosch to finalise my job for 1957.

Jean, my roommate, had been weeping into her pillow for three days about the loss of Wilfred Dicker.  She thought they were a couple, and the shock when he appeared, entwined with a blonde!

So on day three of weeping, she wiped her eyes, dried her tears, and said she was joining me to Cape Town.  But let’s be adventurous.  Let’s hitch hike.

That was an offence that could get you expelled.  For girl students, in 1956.

But what the hell – we’re out of here in ten days anyway.

So beyond the station on the side of the road we take our stand and thumb our lift.

A rather prissy lady stops.  She is somewhat shocked at our behaviour.

“What are two nice girls like you doing hitch hiking?”

I start explaining when Jean interrupts, “We’re trying to pick up a man,” she says.

Tight-lipped response from prissy lady and off she goes.  Leaving us high and dry.

“Maybe we should have gone with her,” I start, when a fairly tired looking car passes us, stops and reverses.  Behind the wheel is a shady looking character.  Young enough.  But oily, stringy hair and dirty fingernails tell the story.

I am ready to decline when Jean jumps in.  “Kom, Kam.  We were looking for adventure, remember?” I sit at the back,  with my white stiletto-heeled shoe in my hand, ready to bash him if necessary.  His name is Jerry.

“We are sisters,” Jean tells him. “I am Sannie and she is Annie.  Annie, isn’t it wonderful to have a MAN around again?”

“Don’t you two have boy friends?” Jerry asks.

“Well, when the boy friends find out about our father, they stop coming.”

“What about him?”

“Hy’t ‘n siekte, jy weet?”

Jerry hurriedly opens the window on his side, probably to blow out any lingering germs.

“En wat doen julle?”

“Ons woon in Goodwood, en ons werk op die Kaapse stasie.  Albei van ons.  Annie verkoop die magazines, ek is by die ice cream.”

Meanwhile we’re getting closer to Cape Town.  We need to be in Rondebosch, but next thing we know, we’re in Salt River, stopping outside a seedy block of flats.

Jerry informs us that he is just going to fetch his “mate”, so that we could each have a boy friend for the evening.

Now we panic.  This area is dicey – we don’t quite know our way out.

Fortunately for us, “mate” is not home.

We come clean – we are really almost teachers and we’re having a bit of fun before entering the adult world.

The shock and hurt on Jerry’s face remains with me.  Maybe we did a little growing up that day?

Annaleen Erasmus

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