“I know a great barbecue place just off this dirt path, it would be a great place to eat…” said Mallory Lundquist’s road trip companion, as they drove through one of the most flat, desolate stretches of Idaho. There was no barbecue joint in sight.
They never found said barbecue place, nor spoke again during the rest of their 14-hour road trip together. For Lundquist, even silence was better than the type of conversation that came about when driving with this complete stranger.
Lundquist, a recent graduate of BYU Idaho, took a ride with a stranger through her university’s ride board, an option for traveling students that BYU also offers. Riding long distances with total strangers would propose a serious concern in any other setting, but common ground seems to unite BYU students without hesitation.
The ride board is mounted on a wall in the basement of the Wilkinson Center, the entire operation still conducted through a sprawling map of the U.S., small wooden boxes and color-coordinated slips of paper. The ride board has been operating this way for decades, providing students with more convenient travel as they head to the various corners of the country.
Andy Kyle, a junior from Yorba Linda, Calif., had no reservations when looking for a ride home for Christmas last year.
“I wasn’t nervous about it,” Kyle said. “It’s useful and it worked for me. The girl I rode with and I talked the whole time and listened to music, it could have been a lot worse.”
For some, using the ride board can be a life-changing experience. Joelle Bardin’s parents met through the ride board, a story she relayed to The Daily Universe in 1999. Her parents used the ride board in the ’70s and despite the trip ending in a sudden storm, a totaled car and a broken collarbone, they found love and married three months later.
As much as spending hours upon hours with strangers in a cramped place sounds like the start of great stories, most people find their experiences with the ride board to be helpful and relatively unexciting. There will be sleeping, music and pit stops, and that’s usually it.
Katherine Thomspon, a junior from Alexander, Ark., studying exercise science, treats her ride board endeavors like a simple business transaction, rather than a blind date.
“It was awkward, but mostly just business: ‘I take you here, you pay me for gas,’” Thompson said.