There are three enemies to avoid when navigating the battlefield that is a long road trip.
Sleepiness. Getting lost. And accidents.
And the longer the trip, the more likely you are to encounter one or all of these enemies especially sleepiness. Having the right passenger can go a long way towards keeping a person awake, so I thought I'd be OK with my fiancee by my side as we traveled to Wisconsin over the weekend.
My sense of security was proven false when a few hours into the trip I saw my fiancee's head tilt backwards and rest on the seat. She closed her eyes.
That didn't take long.
She was already committing one of the cardinal sins of the road-trip co-pilot, whose only job is to aid the pilot in any way possible. I can't say I was shocked, but I was a little disappointed.
I could hardly imagine Batman turning to Robin in the face of extreme sleepiness only to find him passed out and dreaming of Coach purses and little dogs.
At that point I was struck like a jaywalking deer with the realization that I'd be fighting this battle alone. Luckily I had provisions in the form of Red Bull, music and A.M. talk radio. I took a sip of Red Bull, put in a CD and waited for my wings to sprout.
Not too long afterwards my fiancee began to stir
I imagined her waking up, turning to me and asking, "are you tired?" I'd say, "yes," and she'd say, "poor baby. Let me give you a back scratch."
Her fingers would travel up and down my back doing more to ward off sleepiness than any amount of caffeine and taurine ever could. She would continue doing this until we reached our destination feeling refreshed and full of energy.
The fantasy was eventually interrupted when my real-life fiancee mumbled, "the music is too loud. Can you turn it down?"
Interesting proposal, I thought, let's examine the situation. I am playing music to keep myself awake. She is complaining that the music is keeping her from sleeping. She is supposed to be keeping me awake, but is instead sleeping.
Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?
Instead of explaining this to her I turned off the music and began to think my co-pilot wasn't pulling her weight. I did a mental checklist of her co-pilot employment history and found numerous infractions.
Complains openly about how boring sports talk radio is.
Drives less than her fair share (3 of 20 hours doesn't cut it).
Listens to the same CD over and over and over again.
Is too hot when I am too cold or is too cold when I am too hot.
Sings along to Broadway musicals on CD then pauses in between songs to explain what I would be seeing on stage.
Is unenthusiastic when asked to reciprocate back scratches, hand massages, etc.
I could go on, but you get the point.
I suppose having a lazy co-pilot is a type of punishment I deserve a form of relationship karma coming back to bite me. After all, I'm not the best passenger either.
On the rare occasion that I am playing the role of co-pilot, I've been known to take off my shoes, pronounce how stinky my feet are, then place my feet on the heating vent (not to smell up the car, but to warm my feet up. Smelliness is a side effect).
Fast food doesn't always sit well with me and it's too cold to roll down the window in the winter. I've got a couple video game soundtracks in my music library that could be described as annoying, and I like to throw food wrappers on the floor.
According to my fiancee, the worst thing I do is forget to wear my seat belt sometimes. She has no sense of humor about this and will stop the car until I buckle up.
Looking at this list, I see I'm not the perfect co-pilot either. She has her flaws and I have mine. But as long as we make it safely to our destination, I suppose it doesn't matter.
I still take pride in one thing though. You won't find me falling asleep on the job.
(Craig Haupert is a sports writer for The Minot Daily News. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)