This has always been an issue in our relationship and something I thought could haunt us for our entire future. I first really noticed it in our first few weeks of dating on our way to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. Magoo was driving, if you can call it that. He was sitting in the left lane on the Interstate cruising at a steady 40. I don’t even think that is the minimum required speed. I actually kept my mouth shut and was nice about it. On Thursday night it was getting late and he had a headache. We both wanted to go to our hotel and get something to eat. So I took over the driving. I knew we needed to haul ass, so I pushed it – hitting 90 at times to get the last hour knocked out quickly. I looked over and saw Magoo gripping the door handle.
“Does my driving make you nervous?”
“Well we just drive differently”
“Yes, I am quite aware. I have to say I am more aggressive and definitely faster”
“There is no doubt those are both true, but I trust you. Overall, it does not make me nervous, I just choose to drive differently and I make no apologies for it.”
That was fair. As long as I didn’t make him uneasy to ride with me and that he trusted me I figured we were doing wonderfully. It really was a win-win, that night we could get to our food and beds faster with my driving style.
On Sunday morning we knew we had to leave by 10. There was a seven hour drive and a time difference, we lost an hour. We needed to get back to Tampa to pick up the Ging by 6, otherwise Fuzzie Buddies closed and we would be charged for another night….assuming they had the room and were willing to let her crash there. So we knew we needed to hustle and we got our butts out of Pensacola around 10:04. Not too bad so far. Yet there was traffic on the bridge leaving Pensacola, we were already behind. That set us back 15 minutes, which was slowly becoming priceless time. But we kept on going, Magoo at the wheel. We make it several hundred more miles and 1 o’clock became 2 o’clock, central to eastern. The phone rings and I explain where we are and where we need to be.
SHIT. It’s 2 o’clock and we have 270 miles to go. You do the math, because we did also. Speed limit 70. We need to do 80 miles the entire rest of the trip. Nothing less. Yet, with slower drivers, traffic and a stop to get gas, at least, we will not be allowed to go 80. So we need to top that at times, hitting 90 and 100 to make up for the time we may lose.
“You have to go 80”
“I am, it’s not like I am slacking over here”.
I look over, and see a steady 72, 73. I doubt he has hit 80.
“That’s not going to cut it, you need to step on it or scoot over. I get the whole safety thing, but we have to move it.”
So we pull over at the next exit and on the side of the road perform a Chinese fire drill. I take the wheel and do what I do best, speed. It is now 2:12 and we have 260 miles to go in under four hours. I had my doubts. At 3 we were able to call Fuzzie Buddies, when they opened for their pick up hours. They give us a 15 minute grace period to get there before the doors are really closed and we are charged an extra day. Otherwise, they would hold her until we got there and charge us an extra $35. Okay, I could breathe some. In the past hour I had done just over 75 miles. At that pace, I had 185 miles to go and just about three hours to get it done. Not a problem. We both agree that if they were willing to give us the 15 minute grace period, we could probably push it to 6:20 or 6:30, someone was probably going to be there to care for the dogs anyway.
We head into Lake City and pick up I-75. At 3:35, I pull over at the first exit for the trifecta break, gas, food and bathroom. I give us 10 minutes to get it all done and we triage our responsibilities Due to complications, most at the BK, we run up a 20 minute break. Still, I felt okay with the pace we had been on over the past hour plus.
But then it falls apart. I can barely pull 60 mph. There are tons of cars on the road. We are somewhere near Gainesville. Maybe people traveled for the football game and the traffic will drop off? Nope, no luck. Still tons of cars on the road, making it very difficult to pass people or keep a speed much higher then 70. I curse a lot. Then it gets worse. I slam on my breaks and scream. We are stopped. On the Interstate in the middle of Florida at 4:13 on a Sunday afternoon. I look up at the bridge ahead and all I see are tail lights. What is going on? Magoo flips through the radio stations to find out what the delay is all about. We don’t find a thing. No explanation for the seemingly endless line of cars. We probably inch forward for 15 minutes until we reach a small accident that was off the side of the road with a cop attending to the action. I suppose mid-Florida drivers don’t have a TV because this was entertainment for them. At this point, I really don’t think we can make it. Magoo convinces me we have the time and it will get better, so I push on.
Once we get past the non-event, the highway breaks for the Turnpike and the traffic clears some. He was right. So I step on it. We see 90 and we pass everyone.
“You learned to drive in Miami didn’t you?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Don’t forget that I was also taught to drive by a New Yorker driver”
“Yeah. I can tell.” And he draws in his breathe. r>
We keep moving. At 5:48 we pull onto 275, and see we have close to 18 miles into Tampa, plus we needed time to get off the interstate and over to Fuzzie Buddies. I again doubt that this can be done. Magoo calls the FB to see if there is anyway they can keep it open for an additional 30 minutes or so, maybe just to 6:30. There apparently is no way they can stay open, unless we want to give them $35 more dollars.
He tries to rationalize with me. After all, it is just $35 and it may not worth busting our asses to get there. Otherwise, we can leave her there for another night for only $20. Clearly these are both real options. It is obviously not worth it to risk our safety over such small money amounts. But at this point I need to make it there on time. I think he has forgotten that it is still a realistic possibility. I see his point about the money, but to me it is the principle of it. I need to make it. I feel like I am on the Amazing Race. I can’t lose at this point. Plus, the bonus prize at the end is we get our girl back.
We now had just under 25 minutes. Thankfully the remainder of 275 was fairly clear. A silver Lexus had the same agenda I did and we pushed 75 miles in the 55 speed limit. We now had four lanes to move through. Those last 11 miles flew by, literally. We jump off 275 onto I-4. Generally known as malfunction junction. But I prayed it would be clear at 6:06 on a Sunday, since I thought it was the most direct route. It was. Not a car on it. No malfunction there. 6:09. We quickly exit for the street. There are four lights between us and the Ging and a 45 mph speed limit. We make the first two but sit at the last two. C’mon. C’mon. We both are franticly looking at the clock and the light. Then in the distance we hear a train whistle.
“Crap. Where is that coming from?”
“I don’t know, just keep moving. Until we see it, you keep going. We can do this.”
The lights change and I swing onto the last bit of road. I gun our engine and we both smell burnt tires. We were one turn away from the driveway of FB. It was 6:14. I haphazardly pull into the front, jump out of the car without turning the engine off and bang on the locked door. The girl knew who I was immediately. She lets us in and jets back to the desk. It was JUST 6:15. She runs over to the computer to check us out. Now it is her urging with c’mon, c’mon. Apparently she needed to get the check out through the computer system before the clock changed to 6:16, otherwise she was required to charge us the late pick up fee. Amazingly, she gets it done, in time for us to look up and out the door. Again we hear the train whistle. This time it is close since the actual giant train was passing right by.
We both know that if we were seconds later, we would have been stuck behind the train and never would have made it. As we get back in the car and sit and wait for the train to finish passing we reflect. One more minute at the bagel store this morning. One more minute at the rest stop getting gas. One more minute traveling at 76 mph. Any number of factors could have prevented us from making it. Since we were wrong. We had to be there at 6:15 and not a minute late. I can say our success was mostly thanks to my mad dash. Yes, it was just $35.00, but it made our looooooooooong drive an adventure and a mission. I also think Magoo trusts me more now. Not to mention, I am a damn good speed racer and we have Ginger home with us, safe and sound.