“Hey man, you think I could get a ride with you back to Michigan on Friday? Really don’t want to take the megabus if I can avoid it.”
I let out a loud groan last Tuesday morning when I opened this text message in my depressing ass breakroom at work. I knew a few texts like this one would be coming. Easter weekend was approaching and I’ve got a lot of friends from the same part of Michigan as me who don’t have access to a car in Chicago.
I’ve been trying to keep the fact that I have a vehicle here a secret but as with any secret, word eventually gets out to people who you do not want finding out. I quickly sent a reply back that I knew would get me out of this pickle.
“dolphinitely- leaving at 8:00 a.m. Friday morning. Took the day off. That work for you?”
He responded about an hour later letting me know that he wouldn’t be able to leave until around 6:00 p.m. that Friday night and relief washed over me in an awesome wave. I had dodged a huge bullet: the dreaded “passenger on a short road trip.”
I’ve never really cared about automobiles. Never in my life have I been referred to as a “car guy,” and to be frank, I think being super into cars is kind of weird. I can understand where people who like working on them or have money to purchase a luxury vehicle are coming from when they wax poetic about a certain car model, but for me, a car is nothing more than a way to get from A to B. I don’t care if it’s a junker. All I care about is if it can run or not.
Having said that, the simple joy of driving a nice car and “opening it up” on the highway – that is not lost on me. Going really fast on a highway with the windows down and the music blaring is a great feeling. But I like to be alone when I’m doing that activity. And can you really blame me? At everyone’s core, no one really wants to do another human being a favor.
There’s a common misconception amongst people of all ages that road trips are fun. Never once have I driven anywhere over three hours and had fun with the people who were in the car with me. Quite the opposite, actually. I usually want to tear someone’s head off if I’m in a car or a confined space with people for more than an hour.
There’s a lot of things you have to worry about when you’ve got a passenger with you on a road trip. Music selection needs to be altered and thought about. Sure, you’re probably doing that person who is riding along with you a massive favor by giving them a ride but at what cost? Your happiness? It’s not worth it. Just you and the open road sounds a hell of a lot better than you, the open road, and some kid in your front seat who just asked you to stop for the third time in an hour to pee.
Sitting in a car with anyone for longer than, oh I don’t know, forty minutes, is awful to me. I don’t like listening to other people breathe. I don’t like taking requests for music that I don’t enjoy. And I certainly don’t appreciate a passenger or riding mate telling me that the cigarette I’m smoking and simultaneously ashing out of the window is bothering their delicate sensibilities. If I’m driving a car I just prefer that I be alone. I don’t know why people enjoy traveling long distances with others. When I’m traveling somewhere there is nothing worse than someone riding shotgun with me.
I enjoy riding solo in my car (especially on a trip from Chicago back to my hometown in Michigan) because from time to time a man needs to be alone with his thoughts. I have tons of friends who actually, physically and emotionally, need someone to ride with them when they make trips like this. They’re like Jerry McGuire. Just can’t stand the thought of being alone.
But me? I use the time alone on a road trip for introspection. It’s a time for me to reflect, smoke a bunch of cigs, and crank some Gladys Knight or The Rolling Stones with me singing lead vocals. I sing the songs that I like to sing completely uninhibited by a friend or acquaintance that won’t stop badgering me about giving them control of the aux cord. Just look at how much fun I’m having here:
I think if we’re all honest with ourselves we’d prefer to drive our cars on these short road trips by ourselves. We’re just too polite to say we’d rather be alone, and in this day and age I believe it’s high time we start speaking on our minds on all issues. Feminism, civil rights, the electoral college – these are all noble causes. But don’t be afraid to say no sometimes. Let’s not be scared to tell friends who are in need that “actually, no- I can’t give you a ride. I want to be alone for this one. Shoot me a text when your megabus gets in, though.” .
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