Rushing the Road Trip of Life

Road trips are difficult for a lot of reasons. You’re trapped in a car filled with Cheerios crumbs (ew), you’re trapped in a car with other people, you’re trapped in a car with weird fake air, and, oh yeah, you’re trapped in a car. When you’re from New Jersey, and the East Coast in general, I assume, you’re up against a whole new demon: People Who Drive Like My Grandparents. 

In the South, people speak slower. They walk slower. They eat slower. And, most annoyingly, they drive slower. They actually go the speed limit. Now what the hell is that? And most frustrating of all, when I finally pass them flying by going 85 with the music blasting and the windows open, I can see that they’re happy. 

One thing that really hit me in study abroad in Florence, Italy was that after sitting down for three hours for a meal, casually sipping a glass of wine, and even strolling about the city, I realized that I had never really experienced anything before because I had never stopped to. In Italy, I tasted food I had one hundred times before that I felt I had never tasted one of those past times. I breathed in air and actually noticed it. I spoke to people and I was listening to what they were saying.

Now America is no Italy, let’s get that straight, but the South does have something on their side that goes beyond driving annoyingly slow. Southerners drive slow, talk slow, and eat slow because they’re enjoying it. They’re not always in a psychotic rush looking for the next best thing; the next most interesting person to talk to at a party, the next best meal they can ever have, or the next meeting they can squeeze into an already packed day.

Instead, they’re happy to be where they are. They can enjoy that cornbread or that nice breeze or the old lady they’re chatting with next door. Somehow, in that nice, sunny, downtime, I think they got a little farther than us up here going 20 over the 65 speed limit ever did, even if I do get to my destination five minutes quicker. 

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How To Not End Up On The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Normally, I would happily hand over my cash to any airport for the sheer opportunity to escape a long and tedious car ride, because honestly, there is a special place in Hell for parents that force their children who already are arch enemies to sit next to each other in a smelly minivan for more hours than I would normally be asleep for. However, in my new post-grad status, there aren’t a ton of chances to drop hundreds of dollars on a trip when you can get in the car for a few hours and hand over forty bucks instead. As a result, my trip to Hilton Head Island with my friend took about 13 hours in the car, including stops, originating from New Jersey, which I’m really pretty proud of.

Anyhow, on this journey through the backroads of the South and abandoned highways (accompanied by abandoned cars, which is another thing entirely), I got to thinking about if I had been alone on this journey, as many people are, especially when they are college kids traveling back and forth from their colleges after being home for the holidays. And you know what? Driving by yourself must be friggin scary. 

So, after speaking to my adopted retired NYPD detective aunt (who I came to visit on this beautiful island), I have some tips to share with you about things to consider if you are driving for an extended period of time, alone or not….

1. If you will be staying in a hotel, opt to stay in a hotel that accepts pets. Why? First of all, people who have pets tend to be less likely to be serial killers. You don’t need a study to tell you this. And second, if people have pets, that means they will be walking outside from time to time to take their pets out, meaning that they will form a sort of neighborhood watch. Plus, since the hotel knows that dogs are gonna bark if they hear someone knocking, they, nor anyone else, is going to be knocking on your door.

2. If a “cop” flashes their lights at you, wait until you are on a main road to actually pull over. There have been cases known where people posing as cops pull you over on a backroad because they know that no one is gonna come by, and then they… well, you know. Will you piss off a real cop a little by waiting a minute or two to pull over? Yeah, maybe. Is it worth your life? Yeah, I would say so.

3. If you’re in a sketchy area and you get pulled over, ask to see a badge before full-on opening your window. Chances are, someone posing as a fake cop isn’t going to have a fake badge to accompany themselves; it’ll be a miracle if they even have a car that looks remotely like a cop car. And if they do, there is no feasible way for you to tell if it’s fake… so if they do, you’re shit outta luck. So if you catch someone without a badge and you haven’t opened your window yet and they have no chance of getting at you, you still have a chance to get away before they come after you. 

4. Have someone call you at designated times to check up on you. Your mom will most likely do this anyway, let’s be serious. But even if it’s only once every four hours, at least the person calling you will know that you will be available at that time and if not, then yeah, there is a problem and a little search may be in order.

5. If you have to stop your car for whatever reason, pull a little off the road so no idiots hit you. This is literally so easy but no one follows it. I constantly see people who pulled off the road (if their car just broke down, then obviously they have no choice…) who are barely even off the road so if someone just isn’t paying attention, they could ram right into their car. Just pull over!!! And for Christ’s sake, turn your hazards or your lights on!!! I know they look dumb, but you know what looks dumber? A bashed in car.

So there you have it. Follow these basic tips to ensure your safety on those long rides. They’re really not even hard and your mom will be proud and you can still eat all the fast food you like, I really don’t even care. Just try not to die. 

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