Back in the ’00s, a man from Omaha named Alex Martin decided he didn’t like where his life was headed. He was living in a punk party house, working for minimum wage at a pizza place, and was in a six year relationship that he felt wasn’t going anywhere. So he did what anyone would do; gave away almost all of his possessions and hitchhiked across America. Initially, his goal was to go to San Francisco. He gave himself a month to do it. It took eight days. The whole thing went so well that he decided to just start hitchhiking wherever people were going. He did that for the next three-and-a-half years.
Over the course of his travels, he hit 100 cities, 49 states, and a couple Canadian provinces. He also changed a lot of lives. Nearly everyone who picked him up—a group that ranged from ultra-religious Christians to crust punks—told him they wished they could do what he was doing. But, as he says, that would be impossible because “then there’d be no one to give rides.” Martin’s father said that his son’s voyage “reinvigorated [his] faith in people,” when strangers sent him letters saying his son was okay and a great person.
After three-and-a-half years, Martin was out of money and in desperate need of a root canal. So he stopped hitchhiking and joined the Navy. And then things got even weirder.
It’s all captured in Alex The Magnificent, the amazing short documentary below.