This week’s poll indicates that for every motorist who might give a lift to a hitchhiker, another would not.
The poll drew 586 voters, with a solid cross-section of opinion expressed in the 50 comments accompanying the votes.
The question was “Do you pick up hitchhikers?” Responses were set across five categories.
Finishing in a dead heat, each drawing 218 votes or 37.2 percent of the total, were “Yes, if I know them” and “Not under any circumstances.” Comments largely regarded safety.
“I will pick up someone I know well, if I am going in the general direction they are,” one responded.
“Certain janitorial companies have uniforms and I sometimes give them a lift, but as a woman, I never pick up lone men,” another said, echoing views throughout the survey.
“Only if I see an older lady walking. Most of the time they are helpers just finishing/going to work, and no buses run that route,” said a third respondent, making an oft-repeated observation about Cayman’s poor public transport.
“Not under any circumstances” drew several reactions.
One dismaying comment read, “I did it once 30 years ago and the guy pulled a knife,” closely followed by a similar story: “the last time I did so, the person stole my wallet,” concluding “never again.”
“They always bum money, so not anymore,” came a similar explanation.
“Once upon a time, I used to, but not anymore. It’s a shame that you have to think twice about helping others because of a few bad seeds,” said another respondent.
One voter harkened to better times: “Like the davits [a ship hoist] that once dotted the iron shore, so too are gone the days that I picked up hitchers. I indeed have become a stranger in my own land.”
One remark told an absurd, if entertaining, tale: “Having hitched to and from work for many years, I was thrilled to offer transportation to weary pedestrians when I first got my car. However, I picked up a lady one morning who had extremely hairy legs. This experience absolutely turned me off from picking up hitchhikers. I have yet to take the risk again.”
Placing third among the categories was “maybe, under certain circumstances,” with 36 voters saying heat, rain, accompanying children, females-versus-males and a personal knowledge of the traveler made a difference.
“If it’s very hot and they are female, if they have children with them, if it is just before school starts and they are not close to the nearest school, if they are elderly, if it is raining,” cogently stipulated one voter.
Another said she understood what hitchhikers often faced and would stop if “they have young kids and it is either rainy/extremely hot. I am a mother and my heart goes out to the kids.”
Many declined to help hitchhikers if children were in the car, and crime figured heavily among the top worries. Cayman has “too many dodgy characters these days,” one said, while another wrote “the walk for them is better than a knife in me.” Still another was prepared to offer a ride “only if I think my security will not be compromised, essentially no men unless known to me, no more than one person at a time.”
Others were willing to help domestic helpers, churchgoers, workers in a company uniform, and women in general: “Jamaican nannies … no problem, mon,” said one.
A “decent appearance” and “in daylight only” were critical elements for many, while several were impatient with the lack of public transport.
“Sometimes pick up people in my district, but a civilized nation can be judged by the sophistication of its transport system, and here in Cayman we have chosen to adopt the erratic, unreliable, minibus approach favored by our larger neighbor,” someone sharply observed.
Fourth place went to those who felt “we should all be good Samaritans,” offering rides to those in need.
“In Cayman?” asked a respondent. “The island is too small not to.”
Finally, “Only if it’s raining,” the fifth choice, drew a mere eight votes, or 1.4 percent of the total.
Next week’s poll question:
- Work permits are on the rise. Are foreigners taking Caymanian jobs?
- Yes, they are … (explain)
- No, and here is why … (explain)
- Sometimes. The problem is … (explain)
- There is no honest way to know … (explain)
To participate, visit cayCompass.com.