This is Ruth-lite because, as I was glancing through the character qualities and trying to figure out what to write about this time, I realized that this topic would contain some humor.
Our family was religiously devoted to punctuality. Chalk it up to my father's obsessive-compulsive behavior or to it being one of our operational definitions but we were rarely tardy for anything. Unless, of course, it was a social function after a long road trip. Road trips were brutal and I imagine ours were no different than any other large family's.
We always started with good intentions. In my family, "wake up" time was usually 6:30am, so it wasn't hard to get up at four for road trips. Dad preferred to drive in the wee hours of morning so that the littlest kids would be asleep. We'd always pack in the week before the trip. Mom and I would be up to our necks in laundry because my father didn't believe in leaving dirty clothes untended for more than two days. We'd even get a cooler filled with snacks and drinks prepared so that we'd get our stops down to bathroom breaks. However, all of this preparation and good intention failed to deposit us at our destination by itenerary time.
Here are ten things that would inevitably go awry:
1. As I or mom buckled the smallest in their carseat, they would projectile vomit. It never failed. I don't know if it was because mom always nursed them as she gathered last minute things and then forgot to burp them properly or if it was the angle of the car seat...or maybe the baby had a glimpse of the hell that was to follow...but barf they always did. Back into the house we'd go to change the baby.
2. Despite the repeated and often angry warnings of my father to take a pit stop before we left, it was he who always needed to use the toilet one last time or ten minutes in to the trip.
3. "Did I leave the toaster oven on?" or "Did we set the timer?"
4. If we misbehaved in the car or argued, dad would pull to the side of the road and turn off the vehicle. He'd just sit there and glare in the rearview mirror. He'd tell mother to "handle it". This meant her turning around and warning the offender (if they hadn't shut up immediately when the car stopped). If they stopped, she'd mark a little mark on a dry erase board. For every mark we got on the trip, that was a swat we'd get when we arrived at the destination. If the offender ignored mother, and dad had to actually get out of the seat or say something, you were a dead man.
5. We were crammed into a van that dad had bought at an auction. Before we took ownership, it had been a floral delivery van. It had a stange smell on warm days. This smell made a few of us car sick. Not to mention, it had no rolling windows in the back. Someone would puke. We kept a bucket of this kitty litter type stuff that they use at amusement parks in the vehicle so that we could just sprinkle and sweep away the vomit.
6. When we did stop, two of the boys had a strange habit of taking off their shoes. Now, I think I know why. Their shoes were always hand-me-down and ill-fitting. I think they were just miserable in them and would take them off because walking in them was torture. In any case, we'd get a mile or two down the road and someone's shoe would be missing. We'd have to turn around and go back.
7. My dad never bought a new car. They were usually old and battered by the time we got them. As such, they would break down frequently and we'd get stuck.
8. If we travelled in our motorhome, towing the trailer, we'd end up driving so slow that semi trucks passed us and gestured feverishly at my father for going so slow.
9. My dad never checked maps or asked directions.
10. As us older kids got older, we realized that the trips were almost always an attempt to get us to take interest in a person in the family we were going to visit (as a courting prospect) and, I know I, stopped making these trips easy. I would purposefully distract my father or find a reason to make us stop.
And so, we were always tardy on road trips.
-Sorry this is a fluff piece but I'm going hiking this weekend. Have a great weekend.