I have a lot of great memories seeing the country from the back of my parents’ van. Then I grew up and started taking trips on my own, often as a result of long-distance relationships (which are a lot easier to get into and maintain when you love driving.)
Eventually, I found myself putting a ton of miles on the car, but could only answer the question “what did you see on your trip?” with the stammered reply, “um… my girlfriend.”
My road trips had become Replicants. Like the deadly androids in Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Bladerunner, my 10 hours of driving was almost indistinguishable from an actual road trip. Like androids, the trips were engineered to be fast, beautiful, and ultimately, created with a singular purpose: getting me from point A to point B. And like Replicants, these trips had no soul.
Roadtrip Replicants come in many forms, from taking the fastest route during business trips, to routinely bringing laundry home from college on the weekends.
Here are 4 more ways to tell if your roadtrip is a Replicant, and needs to be gunned down by Harrison Ford.
1. You never get lost.
How long has it been since you’ve opened your atlas, either in the car or out. If you can’t remember, it’s because your trips are androids continuously going through the rote tasks that robots are so good at. Repeat, in your best robot impersonation, “Exit 235… Add fuel… Continue East on interstate… 143 miles… Exit at rest area…” If you could do the drive in your sleep, it’s time to “retire” it.
2. All of your photos with the #roadtrip hashtag are from a moving vehicle.
Everyone loves travel pictures. With Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you don’t have to wait until you come back to show off your epic #SeattletoSanDiego drive. Take a moment and look at your Instagram feed. Lots of pics with the hash #travel. Sweet. Lots of wispy clouds covering mountaintops or prairie sunsets. Now, be honest, how many have the blurred roadway at the bottom, taken as a way to stay awake on a long stretch of road outside of Oklahoma City.
If you can’t even take the time to stop the car to get that awesome sunset, then you’re probably on auto pilot.
3. You’ve never eaten breakfast in a diner with tables from the fifties or with animal heads on the walls. Your idea of breakfast on the road is a egg and cheese McMuffin.
Drive-thru. It’s fast, sort of cheap, and does the job. Robots don’t care about what they eat, and neither do you. If you haven’t sipped thick coffee out of a brown ceramic mug while staring at a plate of hash browns roughly the size and shape of South Dakota’s Black Hills, chances are, your trips are Replicants. And, the person handing you your McMuffin probably won’t refer to you as “hon.”
4. You can’t remember the last time you were stared at by the locals. Or had a conversation with any of them.
And, while your waitress is calling you “hon” or “sugar” and writing your order down on an index-card-sized notepad, a group of dudes (whether they’re hunters, farmers, or truckers) wearing Peterbilt or Cabella’s hats will be staring at you from the corner booth. They’ll be scratching their stubbled chins, and you’ll wonder if it was a good idea coming in here. And then you’ll make your way to the counter to pay, since the waitress just brings the food and the bill, but doesn’t take your money. You get in line behind one of those farmers/truckers/hunters. He slowly turns to face you.
“Where you coming from?” he asks. You tell him. He nods. “What brings you into town?” he asks. Are his eyes narrowed in suspicion, or because morning sun is flooding in the window? You tell him, I’m here to see “Hole in the Wall Rock,” or “I wanted to check out the civil war reenactment.” His face lights up. He leads you over to the Peterbilt table, and they spend twenty minutes telling you about all of the other things to see in the area that aren’t on-line or in guide books. You hear enough ideas to keep you busy for a week, and all because your trip isn’t a Replicant. They want to show you their town because you’re there to see it. They’re no longer farmers/hunters/truckers, but a table of friends. And friends don’t let you pay for your breakfast.