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2004.04.27 It Takes Two to Travel

posted Jan 15, 2010, 10:05 AM by Troy Cheek   [ updated Mar 26, 2010, 5:54 AM ]

I recently went to visit with my girlfriend, and the simple visit somehow turned into an extended road trip. For that matter, my last simple visit somehow turned into an extended road trip. Come to think of it, pretty much every simple visit somehow turns into an extended road trip.

I'm not sure exactly why I keep letting her talk me into it, especially since just going to visit her is an extended road trip in and of itself. Actually, pretty much every day is an extended road trip for me because I have to commute to work. At least, that's what I call driving an hour each way each day. Some people have tried to tell me that it doesn't count as commuting unless it's at least a two hour drive, in another state, another time zone, another area code, etc. I consider it commuting if running back to work to get something you forget is a less appealing plan that to just go to the store and buy a new one.

Then there's the work itself. I am technically a technical person. In practice, I spend most of my time being a security officer who drives around a parking lot checking for people who shouldn't be there. I work eight hour shifts, plus the occasional overtime.

Between commuting and the job itself, I sometimes spend as much as 10 hours a day seated in some kind of motorized vehicle. Usually less, so the average for a week might boil down to about 40 hours. There are professional long-haul truck drivers who do not spend as much time behind a wheel as I do. If I could get out on the open road and drive that much, I'd get from one coast of the United States to the other in a week.

When Friday comes, I drive to work, drive at work all day, then drive up to see my girlfriend. Add another two hours for that drive. What happens the first thing as I walk in the door? She thinks it would be a wonderful idea to pack up the truck and go out of town for the weekend. I always try to talk her out of it.

"Honey, I spent 40 hours behind a wheel this week. In spite of that, I drove another two hours just to be with you this weekend. Can't we, just this once, do something that doesn't require me spending any more time in a vehicle?"

Nope. We can't do that because that's what we always do. We always just sit around watching TV and we always do just the little things I need to get done and we never get out of the house and get her things done. Never mind that last weekend I didn't get to go to the single store I wanted to and never watched the first minute of TV.

You see, she has places she needs to go, people she needs to see, things she needs to do. Most of these places and people and things are not in the same town. Sometimes they aren't in the same state. So, if we're not making a single long trip out of town, staying somewhere, then driving back, we instead make mulitple trips out of town, do the things she needs to get done, then drive back.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Being the loving person she is, our standing agreement is that when I start getting tired of travel, we'll turn around and head home. Or, as she puts it, when I start getting so cranky that she can't enjoy herself, we might as well go back home. Unfortunately, she waits until this moment to reveal that the most important item for today, the very reason we are out on the road at all, the one thing that we must absolutely take care of before we go home else there was no point in us having gone out at all, is 30 miles in the other direction.

The funny thing being that if I hadn't started complaining, she'd still be driving and shopping and generally moving away from this one very important thing. How she ever expected to get there, I don't know.

The even funnier thing is that after we take care of this very important thing, she announces that we have to now take are of an even more important thing before we can go home.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I've often asked her to prioritize, to decide which things are more important so that we can do those first, or at least schedule enough time and effort to take care of them.

Her reponse: "I can't do that. I'm not wired that way."

I've offered to do the scheduling for her. She refuses. "Every time I start listing everything I want to do in a weekend, you start shaking and squealing and that vein in your forehead pops out. Like it's doing now."

That's because she can rattle off enough errands, stores, people, and places of interest that we couldn't cover all of them if we were driving seperate cars and went without sleep.

My solution to all this is to take care of my errands and any interests we don't share on weekdays after work or weekends when we can't get together. Unfortunately, she can't do that.

For many years, her excuse for this was that her car simply was not reliable enough to take her out of town, or even around town that much. Getting to work and back was about all that it was capable of. Since I loved her, I was more than happy to let her use my truck to take care of these very important things.

Then her brother borrowed her car, declared it a deathtrap, and told her she could never drive it again. Once he got it towed back home. So she ended up with a very nice SUV only slightly smaller than my truck and much nicer.

We still somehow manage to spend every weekend driving around aimlessly taking care of her very important things. Her excuse now is that doing things together makes us stronger as a couple. But at least now we can do it in her vehicle.

And on her gas.