Road Noise: No Sleep — Or Stops — Till Brooklyn


There’s supposed to be a point in everyone’s life where you’re sitting around with some friends, and everyone’s bored at the prospect of the boring day/weekend/month ahead, and then you look around at each other, and as one, you all go “Wooooo! Road trip!” And then everyone has a life-changing coming-of-age experience. At least that’s how movies and daytime TV have sold it to me.

They’re having fun. See, this is fun!

Except maybe this time movies and TV are feeding me a line, because my experience with road trips has been less about bonding with my girlfriends, self-discovery and learning to enjoy the journey as much as the destination and more about road construction, fights about who has control over the stereo and flat tires.
Last weekend, I drove my mother and my brother from Detroit to New York City and back in less than 48 hours. (I recognize that that kind of schedule makes it more of a strafing run than a road trip, but we work with what we have here at VehicleVoice World Headquarters and Desk Chair Proving Grounds.) We had trouble right from the start.
“We need to stop at a gas station for sodas before we get on the interstate,” my brother said.
“Not gonna happen,” I replied. “If we get something to drink now, we’ll have to stop later so you can use the bathroom.”
“Oooookay. I guess if you froze me in a cryopod, you wouldn’t have to stop at all.”
I eyed the air conditioner controls in what I hoped was a significant manner. He shut up.

The driver is allowed to have coffee. Yes, it’s in the rules. No, you can’t see the rules.

Maybe I spend too much time at Lifehacker, or maybe it’s because I was raised by wolves engineers, but I think of driving as one more thing in my life that can be optimized. The Platonic ideal of a road trip – the kind where you take the back roads, stop at tourist traps and take long detours just for the hell of it – is antithetical to the whole point of driving: To reach a destination in the least amount of time with the fewest stops, annoyances and interferences.
Wooooo! Road trip! Not pictured: Orange barrels, idiots going 55 in the passing lane and an SUV parked in your blind spot for 50 miles.

“Gasp!” you must be saying. “What a joyless, dour way to look at driving! How unhappy you must be!” To which I say, happiness comes through the achievement of goals. Meeting my goal of reaching the Pennsylvania-New Jersey line in less than eight hours and two stops? If that’s not true happiness, then I will have some of whatever it is you’re drinking.
And it’s not like I don’t enjoy the journey – the driving’s still fun; it’s just more fun when you have the satisfaction of done things in the most efficient way possible.
How much do you disagree with me? Well, that’s what the comments are for.

Posted in: Commuting, Road Noise

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