You meet all types on the road
Having risen early, armed with a small bag of clothes, Andreas -- my real-life Dean Moriarty -- and myself made our way to Berlin's Pankow district, where the main road becomes the autobahn. Perched on the side of the road, we waited no longer than 10 minutes before being picked up by a minivan filled with local bauarbeiter -- German construction workers. The friendly old bunch was tucking into a crate of Sternburg -- a cut-rate German beer -- at just past 9 in the morning, and they were all in a jubilant mood (the driver, I hoped, was not). The old boys were humble and gallant, and proved to be generous company for the first part of our escapade.
The soft, inebriated gents took us a couple hours, as far as the old East-West German border, and dropped us at a gas station. I was halfway across Germany, at the dividing line between the east of my youth and the west of my future, to borrow a line from Kerouac. As anyone who's even taken to the road will tell you, gas stations are a smorgasbord of ride-sharing opportunities, and it didn’t take long for us to find our next ride.