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Rules of Thumb: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Sea to Sky

Coming Up Short Cam Roskell, the Swearing Tree, can't quite reach Mars with his lanky limbs. Signage can sometimes matter when you're hitchhiking, but, as with the rest of life, nobody has time to read



Separating Man From Beast

Ah yes, the thumb. Let us drop all doings and kneel in praise of it: attorney general of the appendage, paterfamilias of the palm. Rising from the upper ridge of our hands in brazen, three-jointed singularity, the thumb is one of mankind’s defining attributes. It is the flagpole from which our powerful brains flutter and snap above all other animals.

Oh sure, koala bears have thumbs. And, back when lizards were holding down the top of the food chain, there was the odd squawking freak also gifted with the Glory of Thumb. But that was then, and, kinda like ours, their clocks were ticking. Meanwhile, a koala bear with a Skill saw would create too sad and bloody a display for even Mike Holmes to refurbish.

Myself, I’m pretty stoked on my thumbs. They’re probably a bit different than yours, on account of my double metacarpophalangeal joints, which make me the crusher-destroyer of all thumb war throw-downs. But that’s not why I’m so stoked on them.

As is the case with most thumbs, each of mine comes with three bones commanded by eight muscles: four in my forearm and four in my hand. Taken together, this system gives me an opposable digit, which is just wicked when it comes to holding beer bottles, operating Skill saws to the embarrassment of Australian marsupials, and carrying my skateboard out of the park after my ankles, which I’m not so stoked on, twig out on me.

Another thing I often use my thumb for is hitchhiking. When’s the last time you saw a lesser animal doing that? Unless, of course, you’re thinking of that hippy you picked up outside Horseshoe Bay, the dude with the cute, little puppy all romping clumsy on the roadside next to his rucksack. Was it the puppy you wanted to get close to? Or the maddening reek of patchouli oil and the unswerving allegiance to stereotype?

Yes — I like puppies, too. But it’s a trick, and you should know that.

Nevermind Jack Kerouac, Here’s Ford Prefect

One of the worst things about hitchhiking is the association it carries with Jack Kerouac’s On the Road . I hate that book because it’s so boring, although it’s entirely possible that I’m too shallow to understand it. More possible still is that I just think William Burroughs was cooler.

Besides, far better literary associations can be found with Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut. The latter had his alter ego, Kilgour Trout, hitching all over the place in Breakfast of Champions , while the former, in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues , creates a saucy protagonist with a thumb so huge it brings her fame. Those books were just too weird to be boring.