IN the coming weeks, carloads of college freshmen will be...


August 19, 1994

IN the coming weeks, carloads of college freshmen will be setting off down the highway toward higher education. Many of these journeys will be brief, like an afternoon at Grandma's or going out of the way to a favorite restaurant. Others will be multi-state treks, a family vacation at Yellowstone or a Blue-Highways journey of self-discovery.

For the former, the hardship comes at the beginning and end -- hauling 800 pounds of junk, from the house to the car, then the car to the dorm an hour or two later. Invariably, this happens on a blistering hot day.

The latter is a different kettle full of different fish. If the student lives in Maine and will be attending UCLA, the airlines will not take kindly to the lad's attempting to fit his queen sized bed through the metal detector. Shipping large items can cost a bundle for parents with three more years of tuition payments in their future.

Into the car we go. Lest we forget, in this age of luxurious automotive travel, a car is a confining metal box, a padded room with Roll-bar construction. Add to that at least three anxious people and enough stuff to outfit the Taj Mahal. Let it boil for hours even days and wait for the explosion.

We dare not recommend that families enter this scenario without a degree in Passing the Time. Ideally, time will be killed swiftly, (i.e. will forget how much has passed and low and behold, we're here!) but with reminders like mile markers, exits and county lines every five minutes, this is impossible.

We recommend a different strategy. In order to kill time, you must first know how to keep it the right way. The car is the perfect place to keep "real time". The odometer and --board clock don't lie: Five minutes is five minutes and a mile is a mile any way you slice it. Keeping "fake time" makes its passage quicker. Have you ever been playing a board game or folding laundry and not realized how much time has passed? You weren't keeping actual time. The game pieces and clean shirts became your stopwatch.

Better not to know. Don't sit through an 18-hour car trip agonizing over each passing minute or hamlet in South Dakota. Sing along with the radio, count prairie dogs, or wave at passing semi trucks. Time will pass whether you watch it or not. Let the pot boil and you'll be getting out right when things start to simmer.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.