You got the backseat drivers. The play-by-play commentators. The Kung-Fu grip holders that grasp to the armrests for dear life even when you’re just driving 20 miles per hour. You have the I-would-have-gone-down-3rd-street instead passengers. The heavy-sighers. The AY! AY! AY! SLOW-DOWN passengers that raise your blood pressure.
You’ve had them all in your car. You sit there, gripping the steering wheel and closing your eyes thinking of your happy place. You’ve come to the realization that driving with your parents is one of the most stressful outings of your life, and it will continue to be.
But I’ve got to say that throughout my entire directionally challenged driving existence, my dad never once got road rage crazy or analytical when I drove the car. I remember every wrong turn, bad parking job, and over-the-speed limit excursion and none of those would burst my Dad’s bubble.
He’d keep a cool head and just look out the window as he listened to his jazz music. Even when there were crazy, inconsiderate, reckless drivers out there igniting road rage along their path, my dad would never honk for hostility’s sake. If he ever used the horn it would always be for the don’t-crash-into-me reason, and as Father’s Day rolls around this weekend I was thinking of one our famous driving adventures. I imagine someone else would have never let me hear the end of it, but not my dad …
I had just graduated college, and the whole family had driven up to help me pack up my stuff. My Dad and I decided to take the ginormous U-haul, while my cousins, aunts, and mom decided to take the giant SUV. As we drove down the freeway, we hit a fork in the road and while my relatives took highway 580, we ended up taking highway 880, which I swore was the right way back home. I mean I would know seeing how I had lived up there for four years. Why wouldn’t I know? But apparently two hours later we found out my internal GPS was not working properly.
After checking out our Rand McNally map, my Dad realized we were in the middle of farm country and at least an hour and half away from the right freeway. We pulled into a farm bought something to eat, and then took our bag of dried apricots on the road for dessert. I was feeling pretty crappy about the whole delay. I had just graduated and I couldn’t even figure out how to get home. And before you get all crazy on me this was before electronic GPS was invented, we were old school. We used maps.
But apparently I was so confident I hadn’t even looked at the map. I was down on myself, feeling pretty anxious and stressed out about the lecture I was gonna get.
Did my Dad freak out? Did he yell at me? Did he storm off in an outburst of profanity? Was he burned out? Did he get upset about all the gas we wasted? Was he freaking out because we weren’t making good time?
“Well,” he said laughing and shaking his head, “looks like we’re out on an adventure!”
He patted me on the shoulder and then smiled back.
“But don’t tell your mother.”
I nodded. It would be an adventure, a very scenic one through farm country and windy roads.
And to this day no one really knew why we were so late. It had always been our secret. When we got home and they asked us what happened, my Dad said he had left his wallet at a Denny’s and we had to drive all the way back to get it.
He took the fall for me, so I wouldn’t get sassed and made fun of by the rest of my family. I was exhausted after the long drive back, but still very grateful that my Dad had been my copilot that day. He was later promoted to head pilot.
Out of all the detours in my life, I always remember that one.
Thanks Dad. I love you and I miss you.
Happy Father’s Day.