Did you travel during the holiday season? If you're anything like me, you live for a spontaneous road trip. Sure, I love the feeling of the wheels touching down on the tarmac of a city I've yet to discover, but there's something to be said about the journey that comes with hitting the highway. However, if there's one thing I've learned in all my travels, it's that you can't take everybody on the road with you (or the plane)...no matter how stable you THINK your friendship is.
Have you ever hit I-10 East headed to New Orleans for a little weekend gallivanting and around about Beaumont thought, "What the hell have I just done?" The drive from Houston to B-Town is about an hour and a half if you're cruisin', and just long enough for you to realize that you'll be in the car for the next 4-6 hours with minions from the depths of travel hell.
You know them well...the ones who need to stop to pee every seven exits, need a smoke break two exits after that, want you to turn the radio down so that they can hold a 15-minute conversation about Shri-boo-boo's cousin Niecy who's baby daddy is sleeping with your neighbor but that ain't nunna yo business (right?), they eat everyone's snacks but don't buy anything when we stop because "Eh...I'm not hungry", they never have any cash to pitch in on the gas (even though that was made abundantly clear before we hit the road) so they have to "get you back" when you guys come across an ATM. Oh, and not just any ATM. It has to be THEIR bank's ATM. Because BAY-BAAAY no...they will NOT pay that $3 convenience fee for anyone's convenience but their own. Any of this sounding familiar? And no, to my current road-trippin' friends, I don't mean you (don't call my phone later charging me up). So these mavens of mischief are easily the bane of your existence on the open road, right? I know. But the good news is - there's help.
You're planning a trip to somewhere undoubtedly awesome and it just makes more sense to drive. Maybe it's the two of you headed to shop in San Marcos for the weekend. Maybe there are four and a possible in the car if you've just crossed after a semester of "ass whoopins" (but frats don't REALLY do that, so pretend I didn't say that), and you spent all your money buying chicken and Hennessy for your DP and ADP, but you still wanna celebrate - albeit on a serious budget - so someone agrees to take the "bitch seat" for the journey (FYI - this is NEVER recommended).
Speaking of the bitch seat - let me take this opportunity to go over the roles in the car. Oh yes, everyone on a road trip serves a purpose. The driver is, well, the driver. Be nice to the driver because he or she sets the mood in the car. If the driver is pissed, everyone suffers. The front passenger side is probably the most coveted spot because of its location, but this is an imperative role - not to be taken lightly. It's like sitting in the emergency aisle on an airplane, except your seat reclines. As the navigator, you are the official map reader, the DJ, the lookout for the POPO, the keeper of the driver's snacks, and the master conversationalist (to keep the driver alert). You CAN be demoted to back seat if you screw this up. That brings me to the back seat riders. Your job is to simply ride and speak when spoken to. You cannot drive from the back, nor do you control the radio. Reach your hand through that middle passage if you want to, you'll come back with nubs! And no, the driver can't scoot the seat up to give you more leg room.
Now don't worry - a road trip CAN be the time of your life, even if you're in the back seat. As long as everyone agrees to take the unspoken, unwritten, but completely necessary - road oath. I didn't write one and to my knowledge no such thing actually exists (my patent is pending), but you can kinda hammer one out based on the list below. If you actually hope to speak to these folks again, here's a few things to remember:
So after putting together these "Rules for Roadies" - or maybe we can deem this the official unofficial "Road Oath" - (yep, read it out loud and make everyone repeat after you)...I might need to do some self-reflection about my behavior as a road tripper. I'm guilty of at least half of the things on my list! Damn...that's a tough pill to swallow. Ah well, just like with anything else in life, we live and we learn. I road trip with friends quite often, and I've traveled both near and far, so I feel confident in these rules of engagement. It's not impossible to road trip without casualties, but you've gotta be smart about it.
All I'm saying is - just like money and moving in together - a road trip can ruin a perfectly solid friendship if you let it. Choose your traveling compadres wisely. And oh yeah...HAPPY NEW YEAR people! Is it too late to say that? Maybe it's a "new year, new you" or maybe you're the same ol' dysfunctional you from 2015...either way - it's OK. I kinda prefer flawed and dysfunctional versions of people. It's honest. So here I am giving up my first offering for 2016. I hope you enjoyed it!