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Hannah - Fallbrook High School
Hitchhiking Teenage Girl

When I was a Computer Applications Instructor at Fallbrook High, I would usually begin a new fall class by having the kids write a brief essay on what they did on their summer vacation. This would give me a quick overview of their basic knowledge of doing word-processing on a computer.

This is not really a picture of Hannah, but it looks so much like her that I couldn't resist using it,
along with superimposing the 'San Francisco' sign

Most of the essays were about what you'd expect – a routine list of things they did, places they went, and friends they spent time with. However, one story made me sit up and take notice. In fact, I read it three times before asking the author to stay after class and tell me a little more about her summer adventure.

Hannah was a 16-year-old who was tall for her age, thin, shy, and had an introverted personality that tended to keep her in the shadows of her more exuberant peers. It was hard to believe what she had done during the summer. I wish I still had a copy of exactly what she wrote.

        Fallbrook High logo

In brief, Hannah said that she and a friend had decided to hitchhike to San Francisco, spend a little time there and then hitchhike back to Fallbrook (a small rural town in North San Diego County). She also said their parents, not surprisingly, would not give them permission to do this, but that they decided to do it anyway.

Hannah's story recounted how they had no trouble getting rides, and how most of the drivers were nice people who wanted to be helpful – but who were also amazed when the girls told them what their plans were.

She went on to say that getting to San Francisco was fairly easy and uneventful, but that they met a couple of older boys who invited them to stay in a beach-front cottage they had rented for the summer. She also said that the boys seemed pretty nice at first, but that before long they were trying to get the girls to be intimate with them – so they just packed up and left.

She ended her story by saying the hitchhiking back to Fallbrook was also easy and not especially exciting in any way – but that their parents were ready to kill them when they finally showed up, and that they'd been grounded ever since.

"You know, Hannah," I said, "this is a beautifully written essay – by far the best that was handed in. Your syntax, grammar, spelling, and punctuation are positively flawless."

"Thank you," she replied with a smile.

"However, I must confess that I am amazed at what you did. It honestly seems like a very foolhardy thing to do, and you really don't seem like the kind of person who would do it."

"Oh, that," she said with a shrug, "I never did any of that. I stayed home all summer and didn't do much of anything. But that wouldn't have been a very interesting essay, so I just made this up as I was writing it."

    The last time I saw Hannah was shortly after she had graduated from Fallbrook High. She had gotten a job as secretary to the manager of the local Community Center, and he told me he'd never had a better one. I could certainly believe it.
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