The Twitchhiker (March 7 & 8, 2009)

I started my twitter account ages ago, however, I never really updated it. I figured why would anyone care where I was or what I was doing at any given moment. Then I realized, I wouldn’t have to tweet everything. Plus, SXSW ’09 was coming up and those of us on Postcard from Hell would utilize it to keep connected in Austin.

I logged back on and started adding more connections and using apps like Tweetdeck, etc.

I’ve been addicted to google reader, and I believe on one of my RSS feeds, I found out about The Twitchhiker He planned an attempt to travel the world raising awareness and funds for Charity:Water all through the kindness of Twitter users. You can read all about the rules and guidelines for his travel on his blog

I found his idea intriguing, went to his twitter page and started following him. As his journey started, I had hoped he would make it to DC. As I started to realize this possibility, it was also going to be tricky for me to participate by offering to help while I was in the thick of a Board of Directors meeting for the Alliance for Community Media

Fortunately, he was due to arrive in DC Saturday afternoon, March 7th. Luck was on my side, and we finished our board meeting early that day.

There was a planned tweetup with The Twitchhiker and some other DC area users and I made the decision to make sure I went, but I was also going to help move him along the next day, by driving him to Frederick, MD to meet up with @Yenra

The thought of meeting up with 4 other people for drinks, whom I do not know, and have had brief exchanges on twitter somewhat terrified me. Many who’ve met me in my post college years, are surprised when i tell them I am terribly introverted. I was painfully shy and somewhat anti-social as a young child. I’ll never completely overcome it. I continue to learn how to cope.

an extroverted introvert as my friend, Jeremy has described me.

So despite being exhausted, nervous and all sorts of emotions, I pulled myself together as best I could, took metro down to Capital Hill and met up with @Twitchhiker, @katyhaltertop, @ateedub, @wonderchook

It was long before we were all talking with one another almost as if we were long lost friends. I try to push myself into new and fun situations like this as much as I can handle. And every single time, I’m very pleased I’ve managed to do it.

I had an absolute blast spending a unseasonably warm, yet welcome Saturday evening with some great people, enjoying good food, good drink, and great company!

here and here are the Twitchhiker’s blogs about his time in DC, along with Twitchcast #4
where we go around the table over pitchers of margaritas and say hello and who we are and what is happening.

I was a little out of it, the next morning, when I had to get up and get myself downtown to pick @Twitchhiker up and drive him to Frederick. I was slightly hungover, and exhausted and it showed. I don’t drive in DC all that often and my gps was not being completely accurate. I’m relatively new to the whole gps phenomenon, so I must remind myself that I have a really good sense of direction without computers and satellite. You wouldn’t know it that Sunday morning!
I got him to @yenra and wished him well on his journey.

I did my best to keep up on where he was and tried to help rally other twitter users in other towns to help him move along in his goal. As it got closer to the start of SXSW, I had hoped that he wouldn’t get to Austin until a bit later than he did. How cool would it have been if I could have helped a second time in a different part of the country? Alas, it was not meant to be. I missed him by 3 days.

In the end, not only did he reach & surpass his goal of raising funds for charity:water but he made it to the South Island of NZ to Stewart Island. Not all the way to Campbell Island, as hoped, but extremely impressive in my book!!

It wasn’t until a while after I sent him on his way that I realized a tiny bit of personal significance in my donations to Charity:Water. I did not grow up in a 3rd world country. I grew up in rural Southern NJ, close to Atlantic City. We had well water, and a cess pool for waste. As the youngest of 4 children, in a family of 6, I knew how to use water wisely. If you took too long in the shower, you’d get a yell up the stairs from Mom, or someone would flicker the lights (the switches are on the outside of the door!) or pound the door to ‘finish up’ I’d also learn to turn off the water while lathering up. You get the idea….around the time I was in high school, we learned that some neighborhood wells were tainted.

Our house was about a mile from the nearby landfill (now long closed, and currently a golf course) and it was determined that the landfill could be tainting the local well water. For a few months, while we waited for “city water”, large blue plastic containers of water were dropped off for us to use for cooking and drinking. Unfortunately, this water made us sick. We went back to drinking from the tap.

Eventually, the house was connected to the city/county water lines and eventually sewer lines and we don’t really know if our well was tainted or not. I also never had the supposed benefit of fluoridated water. I use that excuse at the dentist ALL the time, although I do know there’s lots of controversy of whether or not fluoridated water is good or bad for you.

No matter, clean water for drinking and cooking and bathing is not something to be taken for granted. Mind you, my situation in my childhood pales to what those in underdeveloped countries must endure. For me personally, it gave me a whole new meaning of significance of not only contributing my time, and assistance to @Twitchhiker, but also an added significance to the monetary donations to charity:water.

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