On The Road Again

Boyleing Points

With technology, you get a lot of new normal. And I’m sorry to share.

I recently drove down to North Carolina because I’m a servant of the son who shall remain nameless. I was going to get some crap he left behind. He was shy about having a Hazmat team go in and clean out his apartment so he called me.

To start, I hate NYC driving. I hate Rockaway driving, in particular, but I don’t mind getting on the open highway once in a blue. On long trips— I think that means anything longer than two hours— I used to want to set records. If it was a two-hour trip to the Poconos, I’d want to make it there in one hour and 56 minutes. 

Longer trips with kids in the car were no different. You know the old, “are we there yet?”  whine you’d hear? I’d say, no, but we’re gonna get there as fast as we can and if you have to go to the bathroom or you make me stop for any reason you’re gonna get a demerit.

Do they still have demerits? Anywhere? That used to be a thing.

On real long trips, you’d declare we’re not stopping until Virginia or some place six or seven hours in. You better go to the bathroom now, I’m just tellin’ ya…

I said it to the kids but it was my passive-aggressive message to my wife as well. Of this, I am not proud.

Quick story, I heard. Every summer the family would start out on a family vacation and as the car was pulling away, the mom would say, "Stop, I left the iron on." She did this two or three years in a row. About the fourth time she said, Stop, someone in the car held up the iron. We have it here.

Nowadays, I don’t try to set records. But hey, if I’ve got a shot, I might gun it for the last few miles. No, I’m more likely to take it easy, pull over at a rest stop, get a good stretch. I’ve been influenced by the Be Well, Be Happy column.

And at my age, now it seems like a good idea to stop in the men’s room. Of course, you go to the urinal as far away as you can from anyone else. It’s your alone time. You hope.

But then you find there’s a new normal. Some dude starts talking. You glance, slowly—you don’t want to be too obvious about looking away from your task at hand, so to speak—and you see a guy at a urinal talking into a Bluetooth earpiece phone thing. He’s having a conversation with somebody while peeing in a public bathroom.

Man, I just wanted to take a drive and listen to some podcasts (check out Bear Brook) and now I’m listening to a guy talking while standing at a urinal. Does the person on the other end of the line know what he’s doing?

I shrug and figure he’s just a freak. But the same thing happens on the way home at another rest stop. Some guy blabbing while emptying his bladder. They’re taking this whole hands-free thing a little too far. My hands were free to strangle him but I couldn’t decide if I should do it before or after I washed my hands at the sink.

I got back in the car and gave myself a demerit.

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