>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
December 14, 2003

It's that time of the year again when you soberly say Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to your friends, praying that none of them offend you with the ridiculous “See ya in 2004!” pun. Some people will drive home in a big car pool clutching their sixty pound duffel bag filled with mom's Christmas present, dirty clothes, while others will be forced to take an alternate route involving a jumbo jet, several layovers, and three missed connections.

I hate those lame dramatic movie taglines that go something like, “It's not your destination, but your journey that's important.” Bullshit. Just get me from here to where it says on the ticket with all my luggage and balls in tow. I'm on a three week vacation from the rollercoaster of drama and the last thing I want is any more adventures interfering with my potato-chip-eating, eggnog-drinking, Christmas-story-watching, storefront-shopping, beer-drinking escape. Unfortunately that is rarely the case.


After airport security is through molesting you and the 90-year-old woman in the damp cell next to you and they are convinced that you won't be setting your shoes on fire post take-off, you are free to roam about the airport. Minnesota's got a mall. Chicago O'Hare has a Starbucks every other gate. LAX has movie stars littered throughout. Plenty of things to keep you entertained. But if you're me sitting in Outagamie County Regional Airport in Greenville, Wisconsin, all you've got is a bottled water bar and a sale on aged cheese. Not exactly your entertainment network.

I hate it when people see you sprawled out on the floor gorging on a McDonald's extra value meal right before your flight. They stand there like constipated French people and mutter under their breath “Look at zee fat American with zose greasy burgers and milkshakes. If you listen closely you can hear zheir hearts clog.” Are these people waiting for the airline food? I don't know about you but if the plane goes down I am making it a priority to go out of this world with a stomach full of cow and greasy-fried spuds. Because I've read the bible and from what I understand all they consume is red wine and sushi.

Unless your parents love you a whole lot or have invested their credit cards in frequent flyer miles you're definitely flying in coach. You know who sits in coach? Families. Big ones. Families with A.D.D. Ritalin-addicted children. And I realized something when the 4-year-old donning the Sponge Bob t-shirt kicked the back of my chair for the 47th time: these little freaks aren't all that different from college students. They're just running around acting like obnoxious morons fueled by a sugar high instead of massive alcohol consumption. But that still doesn't make them any less annoying or curb your urge to store them in the overhead compartment for the remainder of the trip.

Then there are the annoying people that are too big to fit in the overhead compartment. Have any of you girls lucked out and been able to sit next to this annoying guy? If you haven't, well, you must have been a good girl this year. Screw you. Usually girls get stuck next to this over-accessorized, overly-pierced face, wannabe playboy. This Casanova thinks he can talk any girl's pants off and his target is you. His mission? Receiving “air head.” His efforts to get you to join the mile high club grow intolerable as your attempts to continue reading and not knock him in the nuts grow short. If all else fails just skip the beverage service and in-flight movie and catch up on your sleep because before you know it he'll be whispering sweet nothings to you like, “How about for the remainder of this flight I call you my girlfriend? Maybe we can keep each other company on my layover. And no one will ever have to know but us. It will be our moment.” (Insert eye roll here.) Better bring some sleeping pills to knock yourself out with just in case.


Although flying may not always be a great experience I'd take dealing with sugar-high midget-devils for three hours rather than hungover crabby 20-year-olds for eight. And there's nothing worse than dealing with a greedy, over-calculating individual obsessed with sitting shotgun. After all there are rules people.

1. Calling Shotgun

a. No one is allowed to call shotgun days or weeks in advance.
b. The car must be in view when shotgun is shouted.
c. Play fair. No one likes the asshole who calls it every time and acts like a bad ass when he buckles his safety belt and sprawls out his legs.

2. What to do in case situation C arrises…

a. Convince the driver to pull rank and sit you there because you've got more interesting things to talk about.
b. Claim you have to sit up front in order to give MapQuest directions (which by the way will take you nowhere but the boondocks these days).
c. If all else fails, claim there's not enough leg room in the backseat and they've got to hold some more bags so you can fit.

Going home with friends isn't bad. You can at least sleep on each other, rotate the music maturely according to preferences, regale funny stories of the past term and agree to eat at the same fast food place. Not such a bad time, unless all your friends live somewhere in the state and you're from out of town. Then you're really screwed.

Now you have to find someone—anyone who lives near you. You head up to the ride-share board and pick a name at random—Danielle Levine—sounds nice enough. Hey, and she even inserted smiley faces next to her name! Must be a safe ride right? Errrrrrr! Wrong! Now you don't know what music to play, and you're forced to hold copious pointy build-a-bear boxes acting as Christmas presents for all of her extended family, not to mention she refuses to turn the volume down on Eminem's most obnoxious tracks.

Now let's lay down the ground rules for ride-sharing:

1. Music Control: The Driver vs. The Co-pilot

Who's really in charge of the music? Some say the driver because it's their car. Others claim that they chipped in for gas and you need gas to make that radio work so indirectly they should have a vote. Then the electoral college gets involved and before you know it the driver is blasting “She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy” and Jeff Foxworthy's hick Christmas CD is on repeat. Suddenly the democracy you prepared yourself for has turned into a Communistic development that would make Castro jealous.

2. Food Control

You can never go wrong with fast food. Even the healthiest of people won't mind a Taco Bell stop, but if everyone feels like something different just keep on trucking hoping that your mom's whipped up something greater than theirs.

3. Drop Off and Pick Up

I live in the city and usually everyone I take home lives in a surrounding suburb. So the question of where to drop them of arises. Some ask (“if it's not too much trouble for you of course”) to flail around the city and expressways to drop them off at their front door. Errrrr!!! Wrong! Trust me, when it comes down to it, their parents won't mind picking them up at your house—especially if it means a 45-minute drive over what could have been a 6-hour or $400 flight.

4. Gas Money

Everyone should chip in for the driver to buy a full tank—unless she was blasting Eminem the whole time. Then she's on her own and you'll be taking the bus back to school…which at the end of this roadtrip looks pretty appealing.