Laundry gets an airing on the road
A 59-year-old woman wasn’t going to let herself get wrung out trying to catch a ride home to Cromwell with a vintage wringer washing machine. In fact, it took less than an hour for Jennifer Graham to get a ride from Raes Junction to Cromwell earlier this month, thanks to an Alexandra businessmen who could not bear to leave the ‘‘intriguing lady’’ stranded in the rural Central Otago countryside. Jennifer was dropped off at Raes Junction by truck driver Marlene Graham on her way to Dunedin. Marlene, who also owns Bannockburn Antiques and Collectibles, had sourced the ‘‘immaculate’’ old wringer washing machine for the antique-lover. ‘‘We thought, how are we going to get it home?’’ Marlene said. ‘‘Every time I was going past [in the truck] I was full, then [Jennifer] said ‘I will just hitch down with you and then hitch home with it’. I thought she was nuts. I said, ‘who is going to pick you up with a wringer washing machine’?’’ Marlene laid a $20 bet Jennifer would not get a ride, then left her on the roadside ‘‘dressed up to the nines’’, with a pink parasol and a suitcase full of strops and a ratchet. Jennifer said she followed her brothers’ hitchhiking advice: don’t walk, ’ and smile and wave at everybody. ‘‘Everyone went crazy, tooting and waving. I just smiled and waved at everybody. The trucks going the other way thought it was fabulous, they just laughed.’’ Four-wheel-drive tour operator Robbie Cricket, of Alexandra, came across Jennifer waiting patiently at the old Raes Junction pub carpark where he pulled in to swap vehicles with his son. Mr Crickett said he was talking to his son asking if ‘‘that lady is OK’’ when she yelled out, ‘‘Cromwell’’. ‘‘She was pretty intriguing. She is a flamboyant, colourful character. I ended up taking her all the way to Cromwell because I didn’t like her chances of getting so lucky again.’’ He had to stop off home first though to check in with his wife. ‘‘I wanted to show my wife, because I was going to be back later than she was expecting and she would hear a story about me picking up a strange lady.’’ Jennifer said she ‘‘shifted around a lot’’ and had been in Cromwell for about a month having come down from the North Island. She had hitchhiked – usually with a suitcase – around New Zealand for the past six years and loved it. ‘‘I just love hitchhiking and I love people. The people are amazing. I find them fabulous, great fun and friendly. I am slightly wild and love new experiences. I enjoy life and I don’t let anything stop me from doing what I want.’’
Unusual sight: Jennifer Graham attracted motorists’ attention while trying to hitchhike from Raes Junction to Cromwell with a vintage wringer washing machine recently.