Road Trip

I spent yesterday picking up the youngest son from college in Pittsburgh. It makes for a long day to go there and back again, but I find I really don’t mind. We only get to keep him a few weeks before we have to give him back. I think that trip will be harder on me, especially if my middle son can’t go with me like he did this time.

I think I have said it here before, but a proud father just can’t keep from saying it over and over. I am delighted at the men my three sons have grown up to be. Right at the start of the trip my middle son pulled out a CD he’d mixed. It was a delight. The variety of music was amazing. Comedy songs and ballads, classic rock and orchestras, in your face hard rockers and covers of video game soundtracks. He called it his “stay awake” CD. The variety was selected on purpose to keep him from being lulled to sleep when he was pulling “all nighters” studying. It did its job and kept two early morning travelers awake and alert. Later in the trip we listened to his David Bowie anthology and I finally was able to listen to John Mellencamp’s “Freedom’s Road”.

When we got to Pittsburgh around noon, little did I know that my day had just started. The school has built new dorms, and is stopping the sponsored housing in a local apartment complex. This meant moving all of the youngest son’s belongings out of the apartment. It took five hours, a pepperoni pizza plenty of root beer to get all of his belongings loaded into the van, and the apartment cleaned. Roommate from hell skipped out the day before without doing much cleaning. Youngest son played music from the band “Modest Mouse”, and he was right, I did like them. I am sure that I had heard the song “Florida” before. It was really good.

Small aside to discuss kindness. There have been many times in my life that simply being kind has paid me back with more benefit that just the simple satisfaction enjoying being kind. A small example of this happened yesterday. The person responsible for inspecting the apartments for damage and finishing up the lease paper work just happened to ride up on the elevator with middle son and I as we were making a return trip from packing the van. I must have looked a sight. I was drenched in sweat from climbing inside our Ford Oven née Club Wagon van to pack everything in so it would all fit, and not rattle all the way home. I saw people rushing across the lobby to the elevator so I kept the door from closing so the inspector and the student and parents could get on. The harried inspector vented a little about residents not really trying to make the 5pm deadline for checkout. I told her we were going to be cutting it close, but that we were working as hard as we could. She thanked me for being understanding. Later, when she was inspecting the apartment for us, she remembered me from the elevator thanked me again. We were past the checkout deadline, but she said she knew we were working hard and did not mark it against us. She went out of her way to give us information about what the process was to file a complaint against the roommate from hell should the apartment owners slap us with damages and keep our deposit. The inspection was fast and enjoyable because the inspector was at ease and not defensive. All I did was hold an elevator door, smile and be polite.

The trip home was a little more laid back. We started out of Pittsburgh just as rush hour was dying down with the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” blaring from the speakers. After stopping for some burgers, the two boys napped while I drove us back to Ohio. At the end of the trip the youngest son hooked his I-pod up to the van’s stereo and played some of the music he has been listening to. Some of it is good, some I could do without. One band had a sound that reminded me of the Talking Heads.

It was a “very, very long day” as the middle son put it. All three of us were exhausted. But you know, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I got to spend time laughing and being with two of my boys.


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