I checked into Matt Forney’s blog today, being interested in what this recently emerged writer is up to, and found an article that was both funny and sad.
It appears that Matt, who plans to hitchhike and walk to the West Coast was rejected twice at the Canadian border for “not having sufficient ties to the US,” and cuffed on one occasion. Additionally, he was accosted by police while camping near the road after an elderly couple reported that he was distraught and might be about to harm himself (neither of which were true). I suppose the old couple meant well, but as usual the police response included standard “apprehension” techniques.
Further along, he found himself walking past a “supermax” high security prison.
If you can remember what it was like to drive across the border in the 70s and 80s, it’s obvious things have changed. Also, simply travelling by whatever means even within the country is a lot more likely to bring one into contact with authorities. It’s ironic that when we lived in fear of nuclear annihilation our lives in the US were a lot more carefree, and we had more freedom of movement, less chance of being stopped by police, etc.
Hitchhikers never used to be “suspicious,” people could camp pretty much wherever, and being an outsider rarely drew much police attention. Movies like Easy Rider and Rambo: First Blood portrayed small town America as suspicious and hostile, but the truth is that for the most part people used to just leave you alone. It’s far, far more likely today that any random traveler will be stopped by the police, cited, jailed, harassed, etc. Males, of course, are always suspicious. Females, for their part, are always assumed to be in distress.
What the hell happened?