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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

It’s Early, Don’t Talk, I Gotta Drive

Most mornings when I wake up all I can think about is “What do I need to do today?” The first person I greet is my cat, who comes bouncing into my room when she hears me stir. Then, I like to get a cup of coffee and, ideally, sit with it in some quiet moments while I gather myself for the day. I don’t wake up in a grumpy mood, most of the time, but I am very much a “don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee” person.

What it boils down to is that I need that time to just come to terms with myself. Especially on the days when I’ve got a road trip ahead of me. My time with coffee and contemplation on these mornings is a particular science. I have that gene that most American men have who like to drive on a road trip has, our desire to “make good time.” This usually translates as “as few stops as possible” and the first one I think about cutting out is “bathroom breaks.”

This is why you must strike the right balance between enough coffee to get you going and not so much coffee that you break this cardinal rule early into the drive. I also do something a bit absurd while pondering the drive with my coffee, I sit and obsessively look over the route on my iPad. It’s kind of silly in a way, the navigational app on my phone will lead the way, but yet I still feel the need to look it all over.

I’m of that first generation who has relied on internet map routes for our trips and drives. Before the rise of the turn-by-turn GPS app, I used to go to Map Quest and print out the info to have on hand. I recall when simply doing that seemed like a most impressive technological advance, now it’s become mundane to just tap a few virtual buttons on a screen, and boom, you have directions in real-time as you go along your route.

Content with the amount of coffee I had enjoyed, confident in the route Maps gave me, and ready to tackle the drive, I loaded up my fictional family, and off we went. Sheila, my non-existent wife, sat in the passenger seat playing on her phone, while our fake son, Lemuel, was contently riding along in the backseat reading his favorite comic book series, “Raymond Burr: Galaxy Avenger.”

The estimated time of arrival was 2:45. I was happy about this. It was to be a four-hour drive in total and the quicker we could get there all the better. I felt boisterous, even downright triumphant that we could meet and maybe beat that time. All had gone to the bathroom before we left, and I was fully engaged in Dad mode.

The drive was going smoothly, I was enjoying my go-to road trip music, “Flight of the Valkyries.” Then, it hit me. I miscalculated and suddenly I needed a bathroom. This was a coffee betrayal of the highest order. I looked at the signs on the road, I didn’t see a hint of anything coming up that seemed like a promising place to stop. I was dismayed by the time it would add to the drive, which at the end of the day is silly.

Finally, there was a sign of a Publix nearby, so I stopped there, and while there we all got sandwiches from the deli as why not. I know not why I feel so obsessed with making good time on a road trip. Maybe I just don’t like it when tiny deviations in my plans appear. Or I just don’t like driving that long anymore? Who can say? But it’s a part of road-tripping, which is the great American Summer pastime. See you next week.


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