Back in the day, hitchhiking was a legitimate means of travel for the young, broke and adventurous. It turned out the skills I acquired to make it from one town to another made for excellent rules to move me along life’s highway.

Rule 1: Dress for success. Keep your shirt tucked in and wear a belt so your pants don’t drift to your ankles. Let your clothes say “I’d appreciate a ride, but I’m not desperate or derelict.”

Rule 2: Put your thumb out decisively to make drivers aware of your request. If people don’t know you wish assistance or think you are embarrassed to ask, you will send out the wrong vibe.

Rule 3: Act as if you are going places. Walk briskly in the direction you are headed. Never slouch or lean on a telephone pole. It’s easier to assist those who are making an honest effort on their own.

Rule 4: Be friendly to stray dogs but don’t let them get attached to you. People will assume you are attached to those you are hanging out with.

Rule 5: Maintain eye contact with drivers looking back at you. Smile but don’t overdo it. You want your eyes to twinkle, not wink.

When a vehicle pulls over:

Rule 6: Now the decision is yours. Quickly assess the occupant(s), and if the circumstances don’t feel safe, wave them on. Another opportunity is always awaiting you around the corner.

Rule 7: When entering the new space, first show appreciation, then curiosity. Allow them to make the first impression. You will gain more recognition for being interested rather than interesting.

Rule 8: Don’t let someone else’s travel plans detour you from your destination. Only if you stay true to your own roadmap will you finish life in the place you want to be.

Rule 9: Don’t get dropped off in a lonely spot without promising intersections to pursue. Great opportunities come only after you put yourself in the right locations.

Overarching Principle: Stay positive and confident, even in thundershowers. Your inner strength will be noticed in any storm.

Throughout my life, there have been many caring people who have stopped and picked me up. When given the opportunity, I hope I’m always willing to do the same for others, even when their thumbs may not be sticking out.