Sam Landstra—Staff Writer
Whether it’s for Thanksgiving or Christmas break, Dordt students do a lot of driving during the holiday season. While some live within an hour of campus, other students make treks of hundreds of miles to their homes in California, Colorado, or Michigan, to name a few.
For upperclassmen, this drive likely appears as a mere chore. Not even record snowstorms can slow their pace. These are the people you see driving down the highway at 80 miles per hour with zero visibility. However, for first-year students and other less experienced drivers, traveling back home can be a daunting task. So, for these individuals, here is a multi-stage guide of what to expect while making the long drive home.
For the sake of this article, let us suppose that you have a passenger in the car with you, as many Dordt students do. Typically, this person’s job is to provide directions and facilitate car snacks.
Stage One: Packing
The most obvious and essential aspect of a car trip is packing. Make sure to bring enough clothes home for the holidays and call your mom to go over your packing list.
Stage Two: The Starting Line
Once you and your passenger have loaded all your respective belongings into the car, it’s time to begin driving. The beginning of your trip can be commenced by phrases, such as “Let’s get this show on the road!” or “Let’s rock and roll!”
Stage Three: The Exchange
For many Dordt students, they’ve never said more than 10 words to their passenger before the trip. After a few minutes of quiet driving pass, you awkwardly ask your passenger their major. And in return, they ask you yours. Also consider other icebreaker questions to get conversation flowing, such as the number of siblings your rider has or extracurricular activities they participate in at Dordt. For the more ambitious, politics are viable subject matter.
Stage Four: Music
Most Dordt students would agree, music stands as the most effective method of passing time while driving. Ideally, you and your travel mate have similar music tastes. However, if this is not the case, it is important to establish control over the music early in the trip as to avoid eleven hours of “The Best of Nickelback Vol. 1.”
Stage Five: Pit Stop
Depending on the length of the drive, you may have to take a handful of stops along your journey for gas, bathroom breaks and food. If the interactions between you and your passenger have been subpar, these breaks can serve as a reprieve from their presence. Additionally, for those striving for efficiency, let it be made abundantly clear to those in the car that everyone uses the bathroom. This emphasis minimizes unnecessary stops for those less gifted in “holding it.”
Stage Six: The Podcast
As you reach the latter half of your journey, finding ways to pass the time become few and far between. Your attempt to start a conversation with the toll booth attendant only held up traffic. With hesitancy, you ask your passenger, “So… want to listen to a podcast?”
Stage Seven: Delirium
Insanity begins to settle. You’ve tried everything from music to podcasts to audiobooks. Nothing can save you now. Your passenger is on their 15th different sitting position. As you sip the final drops of your energy drink, the earth and sky blend with the horizon while the lines on the road appear to laugh at your feeble existence.
Stage Seven: False Hope
Lo! You pass a familiar landmark! You sense that home is close, and this long journey will soon be over. However, as the minutes pass, you come to the horrible realization that home is still many, many miles away.
Stage Eight: Home
As you leave the interstate and enter your hometown, the trip comes to an end. You are home. Many miles on the road have brought you and your passenger past the initial awkward small talk to genuine conversation that allowed the both of you to get to know each other. Perhaps you will even wave to each other in passing on campus after break. This may not be the case for those who made the unfortunate decision to discuss politics. For now, however, it’s time to unpack and enjoy time home with family and friends.
Note: Harrison Burns’ article “Zen and the art of the all-nighter,” which appeared in the November 15 issue of the Diamond, was the inspiration for my piece. It is a great story you should go check out.