On the Road Again

Road Trip
Credit: Carolyn Fields

Road Trips

I love road trips. That is, I love road trips most of the time. There are invariably those moments along the way that make you question your sanity, and the sanity of your fellow travelers. Fortunately, from personal experience I have found these moments to be few and far between. 

Rather than let them spoil your trip, I have learned to roll with the punches. Here are just a few examples of what I’m talking about. I’ve also included my personal tactics for not letting these situations “get to” me.

The Pickle Claw

Okay, I borrowed this one from a famous comedian. It’s when you are in a public restroom, and the mega-roll of toilet paper has no “tail” to grab, and you are forced to reach up inside the dispenser to get your portion of paper (unless it’s empty, which is a whole other story). In order to be successful, you must put your fingers together in a type of “claw” or “pliers” arrangement, something like you might use to get a pickle out of a big mouth jar. Pickle claw – TP claw:  same thing really. 

By thinking of the pickle claw, I feel much less irritated by the problem. Additionally, I always leave a tail for the next person. Now that you’ve read this, and you do the same, think about how much better public restrooms will be for all of us! It’s a little thing, but they all add up. Oh, and as for the empty situation, I always bring a little packet of Kleenex with me whenever I travel for a variety of uses. This is probably the most important one.

Mr. Magoo

If you’re not old enough to remember him, Mr. Magoo was a cartoon character who was extremely short, and more importantly extremely near-sighted. He stubbornly refused to admit to the problem, which brought about a series of comical situations. Another important part of the character was he always seemed to work out the situation through an uncanny series of luck, which left him nor worse than before. Those around him were never as lucky unfortunately. 

When on a road trip, I usually run into a few Magoo clones. You will find them in the fast lane, going five miles under the speed limit, yet refusing to get over. Alternatively, they are in the lead car in a construction area where all the traffic has merged into one lane. There is very little you can do, besides flash your lights or honk. Sometimes these tactics have the exact opposite outcome than what you desire. 

I just think to myself, “Magoo,” and bide my time. Sometimes I ask my passenger to take a picture of the license plate, and I call them in to the Highway Patrol for reckless driving. What I don’t do is flip them “the bird,” or yell at them as I pass. You never know who might be “packing.” Word to the wise.

Chatty Cathy

We’ve all been there. You’ve finally arrived at your hotel, and dragged yourself and your suitcase into the lobby. As you approach the check-in desk, there is a guest speaking with the clerk on duty. At first you think to yourself, “great, only one person ahead of me.” That is until the chit-chat continues. And continues. “Cathy” goes about sharing the details of her trip to the obliging clerk, with no clue that there is anyone else in the world. As you stand there, you notice that Cathy isn’t checking in at all. She just wondered over to the desk to ask a question, and she’s holding her cocktail from the Happy Hour going on in the Gold Room. 

There are several ways you could play this. One is to just stand there, of course, and quietly wait your turn. That’s likely to cost your five or more minutes than you will ever get back. Alternatively, you can begin to add your own nickel to Cathy’s stories. The more wild, the better. For example, Cathy shares that she just “loves” the new restaurant in town. You enthusiastically and loudly chime in with, “Yes, oh my God! I know the one! I highly recommend the boiled Yak, but I’d stay away from the fried worms.” 

You will get a totally confused expression from both of them, when you sublimely add, “I’m just checking in. When do you think you might manage that?” Chances are that the clerk will catch the drift, and use the moment to switch gears. I did have one occasion where the clerk apologized to Chatty Cathy, but I wasn’t really all that worried. It was far better than the alternative.

Other Situations

There are going to be all sorts of situations where you’re going to need to choose:  Do I let this ruin my mood and my trip, or do I find the humor, and move on? I highly recommend the later.