Passing The Time In The Pre-Smart Phone Era
The highlight of our summers as kids was to go to Florida on vacation.
Clearwater Beach was our destination and while that was great, it required a 12-hour drive from Tennessee to get there, something none of us looked forward to, from parents to children.
Now imagine being a kid – in these trips I was the ages when I was in late elementary school to high school sophomore while my sister was three years my senior – cramped up in the backseat of a Chevy sedan for half of the 24-hour day.
In the pre-iPhone/iPad days.
To pass the time (and no doubt for them to keep their sanity) our parents would come up with clever travel games for us to play.
My dad was a journalist and so he was always pushing the educational aspects of the trip. And that meant reading every roadway sign. Most of the trip was along the interstate and he would read the exits, the exit numbers, the towns we approached and the names of the exits in the towns.
He said he did this because it’s always important to know where you are, plus if someone mentions one of the areas you passed or it’s in the news for any reason, you can say with an air of sophistication, “oh yeah, I’ve been there, I know that place.”
When we went through Atlanta, I would pause and stare up at the big buildings downtown. This had a lifelong effect on me and explains why I always wanted to live in a big city (we lived in Knoxville, a city to be sure, but certainly not a large one).
My sister found all this boring but she did happy engage in another game our parents created. And that was to read the license plates of all the cars we saw on the road.
There’s a wide variety of people from states in the South. Midwest and East Coast that travel the interstate to Florida in the summertime, and this could occupy us for quite a while.
Most of the cars were from Michigan and we came to the conclusion that it was a good state to get out of, a fact I later confirmed when I had to go there several times in my PR career.
We were also glad we did not have to drive that far to get to Florida.
To this day, reading road signs is something I do to pass the time on long trips. Billboards for attractions are favorite.
But come to think of it, I don’t read license plates anymore; that’s something I’ll have to start doing again on my next trip.
But not on these California freeways where I now live!