Friday, November 18, 2005

Blah, Blah, Blah

I love to drive. I know that many people--my wife, for example, and most of her family--see it as a tedious necessity at best and at worst it's like getting stretched on the rack. After an hour in the car Susan is ready to claw someone's (that is, my) eyes out, especially if she's not driving. The act of operating the car and concentrating, more or less, on this task will keep her natural impatience at bay for perhaps another half an hour. But after 90 minutes she's toast, driving or not. We've taken a couple 9 hour drives together, at the end of which it's like being stuck in a phone booth with Hannibella Lecter.

I'm quite the opposite. I prefer to vacation by car, happily driving any distance. The drive for me is an end in itself. I don't even need a destination. In my early airline career I was based in a number of places scattered around the Midwest, and I always drove to and from these places, both because it guaranteed my commute and because I would then have transportation at my domicile. And because I love to drive. I would bring along 50 or 60 CDs rotated from among from my always-growing collection of music, and divide my time between chatting (dangerously, irritatingly; then I discovered the cell phone headset) with friends & family and listening to music or local radio. I looked forward to these commutes all week.

Driving as an activity is occupying minute-by-minute; it's never boring, since some baseline level of concentration is required to be smooth and to not bump into things. But this can be done without engaging the higher brain functions, as it were, so that one is free to mull over things. When I drove a city bus in Minneapolis back in another life, I would spend my breaktime at the end of the line reading, and could then spend the driving time thinking on what I had just read (I got yelled at a few times for reading at stop lights when the book was just too good to wait for the next layover). Or thinking about anything at all. In a way it was like being paid to take long walks. I've never since approached the amount of reading I did those ten years.

I drive less these days. Apart from no longer making my living in that capacity (well, not exactly), I no longer live in a metropolitan area where spending 45 minutes getting anywhere is commonplace. And my job now usually makes driving to work assignments impractical, since most often I'm having to go 1,500 miles or more from home to go to work for a few short days, and my next work assignment will typically be as many miles away in a very different direction. So I fly. But this week I had the double pleasure of being able to drive to my week's work, and to have the daylight hours free--with a car--back in my old stomping ground of Minneapolis.

1 comment:

mango said...

I love to drive too. I think it's one of the most enjoyable things ever. But I don't drive - it's bad for the environment!! And kind of useless when you live centrally to a city as well.