Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why I Do the Driving

I have a joke in my stand-up routine where I talk about traveling with an Asian comic friend and during the trip I insist on doing all the driving.  The secondary punch line to the joke is that the real reason I don't trust my friend to drive is because she is a woman.  The joke is intended to be a light-hearted jab at stereotypes, but underneath the surface is a subtle truth:  I don't trust other people to drive.

It's not that I think other people are worse drivers than I am.  In fact when I was sixteen I drove the family minivan off the road and rolled it once.  I am by no means a perfect driver, but it seems most of the comics I travel with are even worse.  Because of this I insist on doing most if not all of the driving when I'm traveling with another comic.  There are of course times when another comic must take the wheel and recently that only served to reenforce the sterotypes that I joke about.
I was doing an aggressive week of traveling to various one-nighters:  11 hours of traveling the first day, 10 hours the second day, 7 hours the following day, and 13 hours of traveling to get back home.  In total over 2500 miles.  A day and a half of driving, most of it on side roads.  During the week I was working with another comic from Portland whom I picked up and dropped off at the end of the week. 

After two days of driving the other comic offered to take over some of the driving and I accepted so that I could take a nap.  Less than 20 minutes into my nap I was awakened to the sound of the car driving on gravel, having drifted onto the shoulder of the road.  I looked up to see the other comic setting her coffee cup down in a cup holder and telling me not to worry and get some more sleep.  Like that was going to happen.

Instead of insisting on taking over the driving I chose to let the other comic keep driving and 15 minutes later she again drifted off the side of the road.  This time pushed over by a gust of wind.  The comic in me wanted to make a joke about woman drivers, but the gentleman in me just asked if she would like me to take over the driving.  She declined and said she could handle it until we got to snowy conditions.  5 minutes later snowy conditions arrived.

That's when she turned to me and said "maybe you should take over driving."  Apparently that was just the moment fate decided to put an icy patch in the middle of the road and sent us crashing into a snow bank.  The good news is no one was hurt.  The bad news is we were 60 miles from nowhere which as it turns out is really far for a tow truck to travel.  And really really expensive.  3 hours and $200 later we were back on road with only a screwed up alignment and missing side mirror for our troubles. 

To her credit the other comic was the first to point out that it was she "a female driver"  who crashed the car.  She also joked that she should have been able to counter that disability because she was a lesbian.