I find it amazing that the finest leather seats in the General Motors macrocosm can begin to feel like vinyl after a 5-hour road trip. Eleven of us, weekend worn, poured into a couple of vehicles looking for the nearest Starbucks to infuse some vivacity into our enervated carcasses. Coffee is like liquid toothpicks for your tired eyelids.
There’s a sense of reserved anticipation about the next three days. We work, care and serve together but have little time to know each other. I mean really know each other. We are by no means strangers but when you go to work at 8 in the morning and leave at 5 in the evening you only show the part of your life you want to be seen. I was gifted these flannel lounge pants for Christmas last year that have 3 cent postal duck stamps spotted throughout the print; nobody has seen them. The point is each us is shrouded by a different office and our tasks keep us insulated from each other. We’re on a road trip…this venture calls us for a single purpose that might just help us know each other better.
When you travel in more than one vehicle, there’s always a subordinate; someone leads and someone follows. I think there’s an innate disdain that surfaces if all we see is the bumper of the car in front of us. It’s why State Troopers write speeding violations. And, stepping back, it’s why Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree. Not tasting of its fruit meant following God. Something they, and we are unwilling to do most of the time. You can see that disdain on the face of a child the moment you tell them “no”. Everything in them screams back, “yes!”. We don’t really want to follow – we’d rather lead. Even if it is just a side trip to Starbucks, part of a 5-hour road trip.
This road trip had stages. During the first 60 minutes the conversation is lively, energetic and shallow. You’re to that place 75 miles away without notice because you’re too engrossed in the conversation to look out the windows. Hours 2 and 3 are accompanied by 60 to 90 second lulls about every 12 minutes and conversations get more localized. Our coach had three rows with two bodies each. Unless there’s a question or comment relative to the group (potty stop, fast food, gasoline, the Harley Davidson dealer) each row stays to themselves and respects air space. As you head into hour four the lulls expand until it’s all about the iPod. The lesser fortunate pull out a book or a magazine. If you’re in the least fortunate designation all you get is a window and two eyes watching everyone else enjoy their private universe. Then, just when your knees hurt the most, your bladder is weakest and your back the hottest, you enter the last stretch. The last stretch seems be the tortoise that offers the most reward. Universes merge until at last you have a perfect reverse bell curve of conversation. Everyone’s engaged as if we we’re pulling out of the parking lot for the first time.
I actually like the ides of a road trip most. It’s when I think the most and have the most clarity. Any conversations happening then act like pings on a roof during a rainstorm. We had a rainstorm yesterday morning. I wasn’t the only one who slept in. There’s just something relaxing about the sound of rain that opens our minds and takes us to levels of thinking that are all too rare.
Here’s a quick thought and then I’m done…How do they get the deer to cross at the “deer crossing” road sign?