"I Guess I Get The Hump:" Recalling The Road Trips Of Our Youth

3 years ago


With spring break right around the corner, lots of families will be heading on a road trip.   Do you remember the road trips of your youth?

A few months ago, our flight from Burlington, VT to Newark got cancelled due to weather.  Never a family to not consider all of our options, we headed to the car rental counter. The idea was to get the Suburban we'd just returned, reload it and head out.

Unfortunately, we were told that the only car we could take and leave at Newark airport was an Explorer with no roof rack.  So, I did the calculation; five adults, eight pieces of luggage and one snowboard.  Could it be done?  How quickly we forget...

"I guess I get the hump?" my daughter asked, already accepting her fate. "It's all yours," I responded, enjoying her distress just the teeniest bit. For you see, the hump was often my designated spot on family road trips when I got lucky enough and called it before my sister got the chance.

In those days, had I lost the race to call the hump, I got to sit on my mom's sweaty lap or stand with my head out of the sunroof, propped on the emergency break handle between my parents in the front seat of their Volkswagen Beetle.  In the late 70's, as our vehicles got bigger, I got promoted to sitting atop the cooler wedged between boxes of other groceries and with suitcases under my feet for those nightmarish ten hour trips to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Our family vehicles got bigger, yet still had no air-conditioning, phones, iPods, DVD entertainment systems, seat belts or, in my case, real seats!  When we arrived at a destination, we emerged from our cars with the skin missing from the backs of our thighs due to peeling them from vinyl, and our hair plastered to our heads in sweat.  We were nauseous, smelly and had marks all over us from pinching and punching our siblings, who were so within reach in those days, and from a few marks we'd earned from mom who had reached over the front to smack one of us a few times.

As our spoiled family of five crammed ourselves into our Explorer; a snowboard narrowly escaping the back of my son's head, my daughter securely on the hump with a seat belt pressed uncomfortably into her right butt cheek, and my knees tucked ever so closely under my chin, I regaled them with stories of my own childhood road trips.

They rolled their eyes and asked to hear about the one where I walked to school every day in two feet of snow and no shoes, and we drove away the miles.  Although we had phones for texting and for playing Candy Crush instead of the license plate game, and we had iPods instead of singing along to the radio together, at least we did it.  Everyone should have to cram in for a road trip every now and again.  It's good for the soul, but whatever you do, don't forget to call the hump!

Any of you get the hump or worse in your day?  My brother-in-law tells the most hilarious stories of single day road trips from NJ to Cape Cod to watch little league games all while riding on the ledge of the back window of his family's car.  That poor guy didn't even get the hump!  What are your family road trip stories?

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