It was too late to get away, after his first smelly bag landed in the back of our camper.
With a quicker vehicle I would’ve pulled out and driven off, but our mobile bach couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, let alone outrun this guy, our first hitch-hiker of the trip.
We’ve been hitchhikers ourselves. For our honeymoon, My wife and I thumbed down to Stewart Island from Auckland and back again. Only, I don’t recall ever smelling this bad. I didn’t think it was even possible to smell this bad.
My heart went out to Rachel. It was me that had suggested we pick him up in the first place. She only nodded because she thought I was talking about the scenery and it wasn’t until we pulled over, with the engine much quieter, that she realised what had been agreed to. Knock, went the door.
And now, there he was. Sitting on our couch, body odour leeching out and permeating our seats and the air that we were relying on to keep us alive. I wanted to make pleasant conversation but all I could think of was that where his bottom now rested, my head would be in less than six hours. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then lifted his bare feet up onto my pillow and flecks of toe jam smudged the covering.
By this stage I’d lost sight of my wife. She’d sunk back behind the wardrobe, presumably to gain as much distance as possible from this chap. For all I knew, she could well have fainted and been lying there in a semi-comatose state.
Diplomatic measures were taken in explaining to the boys why Dad was driving with the heater on full blast and the windows down on such a cold day. But by that stage, the kids were starting to nod off or lose consciousness as well. I wondered how long it would be before I started slipping into the anaesthetic underworld.
But then, a tap on my shoulder signalled his departure point up ahead. With the orders given and camper pulled over, our guest alighted. Well most of him, we stopped a further kilometre up the road to flick out bits of picked nail and dry skin he’d forgotten to take with him.
It was time to find our next destination. The Warehouse – for a new pillow.