Sarah Finlayson's morning routine is fairly set. Wake up early. Workout with a trainer. Call her twin sister.
Picking up a hitchhiking John Waters? That's not part of it. Yet the minister's wife from Baltimore stopped her Lexus for the filmmaker and gets the credit for launching his cross-country hitchhiking journey.
Finlayson, who's a 59-year-old wife and mother, was driving down Charles Street, heading home from her workout and chatting on the car phone with her twin sister who lives in Jersey.
As she approached the intersection of Northern Parkway, she thought she saw what she calls "a beggar" peddling with a sign on the corner. But a closer look made her think twice.
"I think I see John Waters," she gasped to her sister, Mary. She hurriedly turned around in the church parking lot and pulled up to the man and rolled down her window.
"Are you John Waters?" she asked.
"Yep," he said. "I am."
"Well what do you need?" she asked.
He told her he needed a ride to the beltway to get onto I-70. She told him to hop in, she'd take him all the way to the interstate since it was raining and all.
What with morning traffic, the drive from north Baltimore to I-70 took nearly an hour. And passenger and driver spent it chatting non-stop. They talked movies. They talked about Divine, the drag actor who starred in some of Waters films. They talked about good restaurants in Baltimore.
Finlayson gleefully quizzed him about which Hollywood stars he thought were gay. "John Travolta?" she wanted to know. "Tom Cruise?"
She said Waters taped part of their conversation -- which makes sense because Waters plans to write a book about the trip that he wants to call "Carsick."
As The Sun reported, Waters fans have been at the edge of their seats for about two weeks as news of his hitchhiking exploits rolled in. There was the indie band that picked him up in Ohio. The married couple that found him in Kansas. And the 20-year-old conservative Maryland councilman that ferried Waters for not one, but two legs of the trip and ended up getting a key to the director's San Francisco apartment.
Turns out, Finlayson was the second person to pick up Waters that morning of May 14. Someone he called "a nice African American lady" brought Waters from the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood to Northern Parkway where Finlayson found him.
Unlike some of the more technologically savvy folks that later picked up Waters, Finlayson didn't get a picture of herself with him -- and she's kind of crushed about it. She did get a thank-you card, written on thick, quality stock. It said, "PS: Thanks for the lift." And Waters signed it.
Before she dropped him off, the two stopped at McDonalds where Waters bought Finlayson a coffee and he changed into rain gear. He told her how, if she needs him, she can always get a message to him -- by dropping off a note at Atomic Books in Hampden.
And just like that, he was gone. And just like that, a middle-aged woman on the brink of retirement had a story to wow the ladies at church. She could hardly wait to tell her church book club.
"They thought it was just such a hoot," she says. "They all wanted to know, 'Why didn't you just keep on driving him?'"
Her husband, Lindley DeGarmo, the minister at Towson Presbyterian, was considerably less enthralled with the adventure. "He wasn't as excited," she says.
"I found him just exceptionally easy to talk to, fun to be with and so, so nice," she says. "It was great."
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Baltimore pastor's wife launched John Waters' hitchhiking trip
Hitchhiking helper Sarah Finlayson (Sarah Finlayson / May 30, 2012)