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June 2013 Firing Order - Editorial

Posted in Features on June 1, 2013
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I’d rather light my hair on fire, fill my ears with Tabasco-infused bathroom caulk, and gouge out my eyes with a broken plastic spork than drive cross-county with a miserable, pain-in-the-ass road trip buddy. Honestly, most people make terrible road trip sidekicks. Quite often these individuals have no idea that they are the road trip equivalent of a turd in a punchbowl. There are many different reasons for this. Some travel partners incessantly complain and whine about it being too hot, too cold, sun’s in their eyes, and so on. Others have the bladder of a hamster and need to stop every 50 miles, yet continue to drink gallons of liquids, and still others insist on pulling over for every “Nothing Significant Happened Here in 1889” sign. If you have a real gem of a meat sack in your passenger seat, they’ll have all three of the above-mentioned habits and more. With someone like that in the car, you can pretty much forget about traveling significant distances in a reasonable amount of time. Any additional miles gained via passing, carpool lane, or speeding (within a reasonable limit) will be negated by this particular time burglar.

With summer travel just around the corner, and in the spirit of making your next road trip more enjoyable, I’ve decided to compile some passenger character flaws that need to be corrected. Of course, what works for me may be different than what works for you. You could be significantly more tolerant than I am.

Anyway, I do what makes sense, no matter if I’m the passenger or the driver. It’s actually pretty simple—I stop for food and bathroom breaks when I stop for fuel. I’m not a particularly needy long-distance driver or passenger. If you can’t manage the simple task of planning your bathroom breaks around fuel stops or other important detours, either learn to cleanly piss in a bottle and not spill in the interior of my truck, or only travel with other oblivious individuals who have the same propensity to need the restroom 10 minutes after stopping for gas and food.

Most people make terrible road trip sidekicks.

I would be perfectly happy if my passenger sat nearly motionless and only fired up an interesting conversation when it got dark and I started to look tired. The trouble is that it’s kind of awkward and creepy for two people in a vehicle to mimic wax figures for a long period of time. That’s why I typically hit the road alone. If there is no way around keeping the seat next to me empty, I’ll hope you at least have a great music catalog on your iPhone, assuming of course that my vehicle has a stereo that works. I’m also easily entertained by self-deprecating anecdotes and jokes. Please don’t drone on and on with uninteresting stories trying to prove how awesome you are. Most people would rather fake an illness or family emergency than deal with that type in public. I’ll start praying for a global-killer meteor strike or an alien abduction when confined in a small space like a vehicle cab with someone like that.

I don’t really want advice on how to drive unless I ask for directions or I’m clearly lost. The steering wheel would be on the righthand side if you were meant to be driving.

Think ahead and don’t make your problem my problem. Don’t forget your sunglasses if the sun bothers your eyes. Almost every modern-day vehicle has an air conditioner and a heater—learn to turn them on and adjust the temperature. Also, simply complaining about the temperature won’t change a thing if the vehicle doesn’t have a heater or air conditioner. Stock up on snacks and drinks if you know you get hungry or thirsty every 20 minutes. If you don’t, I might let you accidentally drink my urine bottle that I filled ever so carefully while you dozed off.

Don’t scare the crap out of me by overreacting when it’s just an opossum in the road. I’d rather run over 90 cats, dogs, opossums, chickens or any other small animal than end up in the ditch, at the bottom of a cliff, or roll over upside down on fire.

I may sound like a road trip curmudgeon, and maybe I am. But I’ve actually traveled with many people who somehow already instinctively knew my road trip rules. That makes me believe a lot of it is plain, simple common sense. Don’t be afraid to use it—I won’t be offended.

I’m sure there are many defects that I have unintentionally left out. If you come up with your own list, drop me a line, I’d love to hear what passenger antics drive you to insanity from behind the wheel on your road trips.

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