Friday, June 1, 2012

For years, my sister and I have gone on yearly road trips to a predetermined destination just to see what is there. The secondary reason for these trips is to remind our overly complacent families of the work that we do in their behalf. We usually come home to expressions of great gratitude which last for a long time. They stay in line quite nicely until it becomes necessary to remind them again of what it is that we do for them. We love to go gallevanting about the countryside, enjoying the sights and the oddities that we come across either by design or serendipitously.

For a number of our most recent trips, I drove because I have a hybrid which gets great gas milage, and economy in one area means more money to spend in another. Since I had been doing most of the driving the last few years, I had forgotten what kind of driver my sister is. We are both notorious for our love of speed; or as my racing enthusiast husband says, our lead feet and singular disregard for the law. Speed doesn't bother me at all as long as I am the one speeding. However on or last trip, we took her new car, also a hybrid; and I had to confront the truth about her, myself and parts of our sibling relationship.

The first thing that became obvious to us is that I love control, not some of the time, all of the time. Since control is, intellectually speaking, an illusion, you can see that I was going to face some issues on this trip. My sister, on the other hand has a fatalist's approach to life in that she expressly lives as if whatever occurs is predetermined to occur so you might as well take the risk and die in some heart stopping( pardon the pun) exciting way. When a trip takes you through the Rocky Mountains on blue highways(our favorites), the opportunities for such an exciting demise increase dramatically. Add to that her almost gleeful enjoyment in seeing how fast she can exceed the posted limit on tight winding curves, and you can see why I became better acquainted with prayer as a bargining tool. I am sure that I have promised God far more that I can ever deliver just so he would get us back on a long straight stretch of highway. My glutes did profit from the ride as I used them to grip the seat as we flew around 20 MPH curves at, at least, twice that speed.

The other thing that I began to see was that my sister suffers from a serious case of road rage. She carries on a constant barrage of derogatory remarks on the eneptness of her fellow road warriors and seems to take their assinine choices as a personal affront or an attempt on her life. While she is perfectly o.k. with dying from her own risk taking, she is sure she will be truly ticked off if someone else takes her along on their own failed exploits. She calls total strangers names that imply that she has intimate knowledge of their chatacter, and she uses names that I know she would have never learned in the household in which we both grew up.

Another thing that I learned was that she does not use good judgment when it comes to dealing with people in traffic and assumes that those parties are going to act appropriately whether or not she does. I digress to tell you that my sister has inherited the Roberts vocal cords. Althought I am a Roberts, I seem to have inherited the Thibault gene for an almost too soft voice. She, on the other hand, has a voice which can be heard from one end of a football stadium to the other without the aid of a microphone even when she thinks she is speaking normally. When raises her voice, it is a phenomenally booming thing
that has been know to cause ear pain especially when heard insde the confines of a closed car. As we were returning to the United States after a day in British Columbia, we were caught up in the morass that is the American border crossing. For some reason, the three lanes approaching the crossing narrowed down to one lane just short of the gates where they spread out again to four lanes with a guard at each. The merging process was very slow but polite until we went from two down to the single lane. There the unwritten rule seemed to be that a car from each lane would go in turn. This was fine until it became our turn, and the car that should have given way surged forward causing us to have to swerve sharply to miss getting hit. Instead of waiting for the next opening, my sister pulled up beside the large offending SUV and yelled in her loudest voice, "Damn! Be Rude!!!" To my surprise, the driver slammed on his breaks and let us in. I was nursing my nearly ruptured eardrums and thinking that he was pulling in behind us so that he could get a better bead when he shot us for interfering with his progress. As you might imagine, I was huddled in the passenger seat, praying that he would realize that I had nothing to do with her attact. I finally got my thoughts together enough to ask, "What do you think you're doing? Are you trying to get us killed?"

Her reply, "It worked. He let us in. Besides, I didn't think he could hear me since the windows were rolled up."

"Lord, girl," I said. "They could hear you in Vancouver and that's 20 kilometers away." Notice that in less than 24 hours, I had begun to think metrically. Needless to say, we were happy to see armed guards just ahead who could protect us from assault if need be. The real kicker came as we were at the crossing gate answering those silly questions as if anyone would be honest. You know the one like, "Are you carrying any weapons?"

"Sure, here's my AK47 right here under my seat."

"Why are you coming into the United States?"

"Because we want to blow up some big buildings."

The SUV had been directed to the gate next to ours where I was sure he was going to report us as possible lunatics. Instead, we heard the guard say in a loud and incredulous voice, "What do you mean you don't have passports?"

So that poor boob was pulled over and read the riot act. For him, it had been a really bad day. He had just come from Vancouver where everything was twice the US price. He'd been verbally attacked for his bad manners, and now he was being interrogated as a possible terroist. At this point, he probably would have shot himself if he had a weapon; or of course, he might have been rattled enough to tell the guard that he had a gun or bomb or, God forbid, a collection of illegal conifers and fruit.

We, on the other hand, drove peacfully on our way. Will I go on another trip with her? As soon as I can, and my family irritates me enough to press the need.


  1. I find that the only way to survive a road trip with my husband is with my eyes closed.

    He's happy I've stopped screaming at his frightening antics. If he didn't see every vehicle in front of him as someone who is preventing him from reaching his destination, long drives would be a lot more pleasant - at least for me.

  2. Oh yes! My daughter is the queen of the road when she takes the wheel. She'll yeall at a driver and stop dead for a bird in the road.