Worst Road Trip Ever!

I get around nowadays mostly through public transportation.  The infrastructure here is amazing and the associated phone app is almost always on point.  I can find my way around easily.  I have become a podcast fiend, so my phone always has some goodies for me to listen to while I ride.  This is so much better than driving or riding in a car.  There is pressure to entertain in the car.  You have to listen to agreed upon music or talk about an agreed upon subject.  With public transportation it's all about me and what I want to do to pass the time.

The simplicity of public transportation here has made road trips basically nonexistent. We've only been on one and that was coming back from Göteborg to pick up Swedie's car that we shipped from the States.  We took the train out there and drove back.  That road trip was pretty uneventful.  I normally look forward to road trips.  When we were kids, my mom would take us on road trips and play old Sam Cooke songs.  When I hear his music nowadays I reflect on those trips.  We would all sing along to the music and eat those delicious sandwiches Mom would make and slice up into small triangles.  I swear I could eat 20 of those sandwiches.  There were always juices/Capri Suns or bottled waters to wash the sandwiches down.  So refreshing.  But don't drink too much though.  Mom doesn't stop until the gas tank is on E.  NO EXCEPTIONS! All in all, road trips were fun for me.  Until....

I wanted to take a trip home to Miami from Alaska.  My brother Jason was going to go as well, so I thought it would be nice to begin my trip in Texas where he was and then we ride together to Florida.  That's about an 18 hour drive.  It would be fun.  Maybe we could even put on some Sam Cooke and sing like the good old days!  But we were at different places in our life.  I was a single man in my early 20s looking for a good time.  He was a newly divorced, single father trying to figure everything out.  I didn't think about all of that.  We're twins, remember?  In my eyes his life should have been like mine.  I was just trying to party.  He had a child to consider.  What did I know?

My friend flew down from Alaska with me.  He was from Texas, so he would party with us and then go see his family.  We went to Austin first to party.  Great time!  Jason and I would tear up the dance floor like the good old days.  He wasn't really a big drinker, so I got him pretty wasted.  Austin was fun.  This trip would be nice.

We partied in San Antonio as well.  That's where Jason was stationed at back then.  The only thing that stands out in my memory from the club scene was the woman that was in the club with one arm.  Yes, you read that correctly.  She was jamming to the music and only had one arm.  I guess more power to her.  I would probably go to the club after being in some type of arm-losing accident.  But it was fun.  Hanging out with Jason in general was fun.  He made sure we had stuff to do.  We played basketball, played video games, played with my nephew, partied and laughed.  We always laugh.

Then the time came to go to Florida.  We got in Jason's Ford Focus and started making the ride.  We agreed that Jason would drive most of the way since I hate driving.  He was cool with that.  What a cool brother.  We got all the way through Texas with no issues.  The next state over is Louisiana.  About halfway through Louisiana we got pulled over by the cops.  My first thought was this was racist.  They see two black guys in the car and think we're trouble.  In all actuality Jason was speeding.  I decided to just mind my business and let Jason handle this.  He should be able to talk his way out of a ticket.  We're military.

The cop was seemingly a nice guy.  Jason began by explaining that he thought he could go up to 10mph over the limit before getting stopped.  That's how it was in Florida.

       - Well you were going 11 over.
       - I'm sorry officer, I didn't know.
       - Can I see your license and registration?

He inspected Jason's license then spoke to me.

       - Sir, can I see your license?

Now I was sure this guy was racist!

       - What you need to see my license for?!  I wasn't driving!
       - Well he only has a restricted license.  He is allowed to drive, but someone over 21 has to be in the car with him.
       - You only got your restricts?
       - I never got the full license.

So basically I just yelled at a police officer because my brother is a procrastinator.  I was there when he got his restricted license.  He was 15.  All you have to do is go back six months later and get a real license.  How had he not done that?  But, oh.  This was just the beginning...

We were let off with a warning (because we were military).  I just shook my head at Jason.  Typical Jason.  I had to take over driving when it was dark because SOMEBODY wasn't allowed to drive at night on a restricted license.  I was so annoyed.  Jason must have known how annoyed I was, so he went to sleep.  I got on my cell phone and called some friends while I drove.  Why not.  Someone could keep me company.  I was on the phone talking when the driver's side of the car dropped suddenly.  Then I saw sparks flying up from my side of the car. This was scary.  The noise woke Jason up.

       - Yo, I think your tire just blew.
       - The front tire?
       - Yeah.  We can just pull over and put the spare on.
       - That was the spare.
       - WHAT?!!!

The spare tire (also called the "donut") is a smaller tire.  ON the tire are instructions that say something to the effect of "do not to go more than 100 miles on this tire.  Do not drive over 50mph on this tire."  We were driving 1,300 miles.  Most of that was at 70mph.  So yeah.  That was some need to know information for me.  I pulled over and waited while Jason called a tow truck.  I sat in the tow truck with my nephew while Jason rode in his car as we pulled him to a motel.

I don't remember the name of the motel, but I do remember the roaches.  It was gross in there.  The smell hit you as you walk in.  You are instantly reminded where your money didn't go.  There were two beds and both felt like murders had happened on them in the past.  The thing that kept me sane was the "That Ain't No Damn Puppy" episode of Martin was on local TV.  We laughed our way to sleep.

They fixed the tire the next morning and we hit the road again.  There were no more hiccups.  We had an agreement that I would pay for all of the gas on the way to Florida and Jason would pay on the way back.  Sounded good to me.  Now I would know that gas wasn't in my budget on the way back.

Seeing family was fun.  It was a welcome break for me from the phone calls I would make in order to keep in touch with everyone.  Now it was face to face.  The way it should be.  Seeing my grandmother and aunts and uncles and cousins was great.

We hit our first gas station on the trip back and Jason got out to pump the gas.  I relaxed in my seat.  Then he came back and startled me.

       - I need your card.
       - Nah, bruh.  I paid for the gas down here.  You said you would pay going back.
       - But I don't have any money.
       - What?  How you don't have any money?
       - You want to get back, right?  The only way is if you pay for gas.

I can't type the words I mumbled thereafter.  Kids might read this.  Just know.  I was hot.  I paid for gas all the way back.  Then it got dark.  So now it was my turn to drive.  We were behind on time (if he procrastinates on getting a real license, imagine everything else).  I had a flight to catch.  We wouldn't have time to go to San Antonio and then to Austin.  I told Jason just to send me the few things that I left at his place (of course he never did) and we would go straight to Austin.  He agreed.  I was booking it.  I even got the speeding ticket to prove it.  Of course I wasn't talking my way out of a ticket in Texas.

Then all of a sudden Jason said he needed to drop the baby off.  What?  That would take us 20 minutes out of the way.  He called the mother repeatedly.  No answer.  He said he knew she was home.  I reminded him at LEAST 20 times how stupid it was to go over there.  I pleaded with him to just drop me off.  He said no.  We drove OUT OF THE WAY to the mom's dorm building.  I watched Jason from the parking lot.  He was moving pretty fast with his son in the car seat.  The building had windows at the staircase.  I saw him glide up the stairs in a blur holding baby and blanket and everything.  Then nothing.  I just waited angrily.  Cursing in the Ford Focus.

       - This is so [expletive] stupid!  Look at this fool running up there.  He better hurry up!  If I miss my flight!!!...

What seemed like 15 minutes, but was probably more like three minutes went by and I saw Jason again in the stairwell window.  Of course he was still carrying the baby and baby seat.  Imagine that.  She wasn't home.  Maybe that's why she wasn't answering the phone.  So we wasted all this time!  If you know Jason, you probably know the stupid look he had on his face when approached the car, baby in hand.  I called him all types of names as he hooked up the car seat again.  I was so pissed.  I just knew I would miss my flight.

I got to the airport and got booked onto the next flight.  It would leave in 30 minutes.  There was a connector in Dallas, though.  I would have only a few minutes to get my bag and change terminals to get on the flight to Alaska.  The guy wished me luck but told me it's virtually impossible.  He was right.  I got my bag and ran through the airport like OJ.  I got to the gate just in time to realize that I missed my flight.  I would have to wait EIGHT HOURS for the next flight.  They told me I couldn't wait at the gate because of some security bullshit.  So I would have to lug around all of my luggage until four hours before my flight.  I thanked the lady for the help and walked over to a bench designated for pissed off losers.  I calmly dialed Jason's number.  Of course he didn't pick up.  He was probably in the middle of something stupid.  I left him a profanity-laden voicemail that would make a sailor blush.  I'm sure everyone around me thought I had issues or Tourette's or something.

I felt better as I said that last bit into the phone.  Now I had to wait here for four hours.  I shook my head and thought to myself.  Typical Jason.  Ah well.  One day this will be a funny story.  Until next time...


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