My friend Tommy Riley, a colorful character from Chicago’s South Side, is the ultimate road trip passenger. He is up for any sort of change in plans, has a broad musical palate, punctuates silences with spontaneous brilliant sound bytes of everyman philosophy, and usually sports a high-school-janitor-worthy shoe-polish-black mustache. And he never complains, not about spending 18 of 24 consecutive hours in the car, not when there’s no air conditioning in the blistering August sunshine, and not when his first multipitch climb turns out to be 13 pitches and 12 hours of constant movement. “¨
You may never be lucky enough to travel with Tommy Riley from the South Side of Chicago. But if you can’t, at least you can be selective about who accompanies you on your next road trip. “¨
1. They are a camel.
They do not drink a 16-ounce cup of gas station coffee and then ask you to stop four times in the next two hours so they can urinate, saying “Wow, that coffee is really making me pee” every time. The Ideal Road Trip Passenger needs to stop to urinate at the exact same rate that the car needs to stop to refuel. Or less than that. “¨
2. They pay for half the gas and insist on doing half the driving.
It’s even better if they somehow manage to pay for 60 to 70 percent of the gas. Also, they drive well, because it’s your car. They do not hit curbs, do not cause you crap your pants out of fear when they change lanes, merge onto freeways, or navigate stop-and-go traffic. You’re safe to dangle your arm lazily out the window instead of hanging onto the handle above the door for dear life.
3. They have a AAA card.
Alternately, they can fix most mechanical problems using a multi-tool, empty beer cans, and duct tape. Ideally, when your car won’t start, they open the hood, wiggle a couple things, and before you even have time to worry about what’s wrong, you are headed down the road again.
“¨”¨4. They control their flatulence, for the most part.
They do not repeatedly roll the window down at 75 mph and say “Jesus, that burrito really tore me up” while trying to fan what smells like a rotted pig carcass outside, or worse, drop stealth bombs in the passenger seat, not saying anything and leaving you the victim of dry-heave-inducing surprises. “¨
5. They can read a map or sensibly relay iPhone/GPS directions.
They understand that states are organized alphabetically by name in the Rand McNally road atlas and can dictate directions with confidence: Turn here. Right at the next light. Get in the far left lane now. They do not mumble and wallow in confusion, leaving you to lean over and read the map yourself while trying to keep the car on the road, acting as if the words on the map are written in Greek.
6. They stay awake when you need them to.
They do not selfishly nod off as you bravely pilot the car into the dark night, leaving you alone to fight to stay ahead of the black dog, desperately turning up the stereo, rolling down the window and talking to yourself.
“¨”¨7. They are magically capable of going days without showering while producing hardly any B.O.
This is not just for road trip partnership, this is marriage material, or just bromance (or the female equivalent of bromance).
8. They are chill.
When the inevitable road bumps occur (see: Donner Party, Blues Brothers, The Hangover, etc.), they don’t lost their shit, but instead adopt an attitude cooler than the Coca-Cola polar bears.
9. They have impeccable and interesting taste in music, but also do not sing along to every damn song they play.
They like what you like, and when they MP3J, they play nothing you don’t like, every once in a while even pulling out a song from your past that you loved but have not listened to in years. “¨”¨Bonus: They are stunningly attractive and potentially might want to make out with you. I mean really, as long as we’re making a list of traits of the ideal road trip passenger, why not shoot for the stars.