A friend I made while driving on the highway

Feb. 23, 2011

It’s going to be a long long drive: From New Orleans to Washington.

According to the Google Maps, I will have to drive some 1,100 miles and it will take about 18 hours if I drove non-stop. My initial plan was to visit Atlanta, GA, on my way back, but it seems like I wouldn’t have time for that as I have to get back to DC by as late as 5 p.m. tomorrow for a class.

Driving for some 20+ hours alone is not fun at all. Even if it’s on a no-traffic highway. But if you make friends on the road, yes literally on the road, it’s a whole different story.

I usually take the first lane on highways. So that I don’t need to change lanes often to avoid trucks. So that I don’t need to tolerate slow drivers.

I was singing along to the radio out loud to prevent the boredom from making me fall asleep. Then, I noticed a green pick-up truck right behind me. It’s almost bumper-to-bumper. Hah! If he thought I would clear the track for him, he’s wrong. So wrong.

I sped up slightly to make the distance far enough. Then he caught me up. I sped up a little more and made the gap wider. Soon he got me again. After a couple more catch-me-if-you-can moments, he passed me. HE. PASSED. ME.

That’s the moment the racing instinct came out of me: I wouldn’t let him pass me.

I was waiting for the right moment, and finally my red Prius hybrid passed the green Dodge pick-up truck. Yoohoo! I smiled looking at the rear mirror. I saw him smiling too. He actually seemed impressed. He didn’t try to pass me again, and drove behind me keeping the distance. Haha I beat him!!

Then, there was a car before me driving quite slow. Much slower than the max speed on this empty highway. But I usually don’t pass such a car or try to push it away. I just keep the distance and wait until they go back to their lane. Usually it doesn’t take long as they come to the first lane only to pass trucks before them. Well, most of the time. But there was this driver who seemingly enjoyed the scenery on the first lane.

And apparently the Dodge driver couldn’t stand it. So, he passed me and pushed this car away with the near bumper-to-bumper trick. And then he moved to the second lane and waited until I passed him. Only then he’s back to the first lane.

It felt so good. SO GOOD. It’s like having a big brother on the road.

There was a moment that I outpaced him so much on an uphill. He disappeared from my mirror for about 5-10 mins. I was wondering if he exited or got tired of driving “with” me. It was a little sad that I lost a road companion.

Then, boom! He came back on! It was good to see him again. I raise a thumb and saw him say hi, through the rear mirror.

We kept driving together for about an hour. Whenever he passed me to shoo away a slow car ahead of us, we nodded or smiled to each other. It was like we’re having a conversation.

When he passed me out for the last time, it was to say good bye. It felt like a losing a friend, but c’est la vie. It was such a great drive and I’d never imagined to have that kind of experience on the road. You know, having such a warm-hearted feeling on the cold concrete highway.

“Thank you sir for the great trip. I really enjoyed driving with you.”

+ Watching him exit, I was somehow reminded of the Chinese saying: 會者定離. Those who meet must part. That’s actually what I had to realize a long time ago. Well before this road trip.


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