Posts Tagged driving

Driving in the 215

Last year I drove at least 40,000 miles insufferable miles in California. Probably triple of the average person driving in Eastern Pennsylvania. In fact, when you factor in my air miles I’m probably responsible for a 2.5% of the Texas-sized hole in the Ozone Layer. Cut to the quick — I know my way behind the wheel and on the road. Like water I pride myself on getting places.

Presidents or not, don't bother looking for these in the 215

But one month back in the Philadelphia area and I need to be a good citizen and forewarn would-be visitors to get your Garmins now or stay put. Street signs here are nearly non-existent.  And if they exist at all, they’re likely behind a hugely overgrown tree — that you need to pass (along with the actual turn) in order to see the sign.

I think they want you to feel lost so you’ll make your way back to New Jersey or New York and leave the Liberty Bell for those truly committed to finding it.  I’ve resigned myself to driving aimlessly but very aggressively through the many “76” highways here that seem to intertwine like two snakes French kissing. I think the boorishness of my driving is welcomed. Text messaging while driving is kind of treated like pot is in Amsterdam — we know you’re going to do it, just do it here.

In fact, with the lack of a helmet law I almost feel like the governor is encouraging motorcyclists to make calls like to local friends asking: “What the hell is the blue route? Is that the 276?”

– Jose Mallabo

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When 31 MPG is boring

If you’ve ever borrowed someone’s shoes (particularly sneakers), you know what I’m getting at. You think, “great, they’re the right size and it beats walking barefoot through the gravel.”  But then your big toe hits the groove where their big toe has spent the better part of the last year getting cozy — it’s just kissing-your-cousin wrong.

You’re in someone else’s house and it’s going to take a minute to reconcile that with the downside of walking through that gravel. Kiss the cousin and walk on.

Imagine my feeling when I flipped open my phone (probably the one thing I never leave home without) and started sorting through pictures in it and found this front and center:

I thought I drove a Honda?

I thought I drove a Honda?

Two beat pause.

12-14 Bob Newhart-like blinks to hyperbolize my befuddlement.  Was my toe in someone else’s Nike? This isn’t my phone. I thought I drove a Honda?

For a moment, I was in a slight panic that I grabbed someone’s phone or had lost mine.  If you know me, you know losing stuff is my worst nightmare. Death has nothing over a misplaced wallet. That moment of annoyed dread passes and I realize this is the rental car I took from Philadelphia to New York last week. It’s my 3,000 lb. borrowed shoe and for some reason I took a picture of it.

It wasn’t the Ultimate Driving Machine or a Picasso, but it got me, my golf clubs and the cheese steak in my gut 31 MPG up the Jersey Turnpike up through to the Meadowbrook Parkway to visit my nieces and nephew.

This steak made it from Passyunk to Salisbury Park Drive via the Rondo

This steak made it from South Philly to New York via the Kia Rondo

After dropping off two of my sister’s brood at school, her youngest bombarded me with questions that I know now are framed by the wonderfully straightforward thinking  of a 5-year old — questions that a middle-aged non-parent like me is woefully ill-equipped to handle.

“Why are you hear?” To visit you.

“Why are you driving us and not mom?” She’s running other errands and probably needs the break from all these questions.

“Is this your car?” No. It’s a rental.

“What’s a rental?” It’s like borrowing something, only you pay for using it.

“Where’s the TV?” Blink, blink. Huh?

I really had no clue what she was getting at until she pointed at the roof above me. Her mom’s car has a DVD player in it. So I said to her, “we don’t need a TV, we can just talk.”

“No. That’s boring.”

I may not be a parent, but I remember being 5. No mortal without candy can win the boring argument with a child. I was unarmed.

It turns out the Rondo not only gets 31 MPG on the highway, it can get to 75 MPH on a side road right quick when you apply the right amount of pressure with your big toe.

– Jose Mallabo

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