Traveling with Dad meant riding by his rules. He was the driver, so it was his way or the highway…no pun intended. Dad’s rule? Once we left the driveway, we drove until we stopped for the night, needed gas or reached our destination. Whichever came first.
To accommodate Dad’s militaristic travel missions Mom would pack lunches, snacks, cold drinks and, just in case, a pee jar.
One summer vacation, several hours into our car ride west, after a picnic lunch traveling at top speed and a much coveted bottle of cold Coke, only allowed on trips and special Friday nights, I had to pee. Dad never broke speed, his one hand on the steering wheel, the other holding a cigarette, his elbow hanging out the opened window.
Mom moved into action. She was on pee duty. She knew the drill and she didn’t seem to mind. Perhaps it was a little distraction to the monotony of Route 80 or perhaps she considered her options. Supervise and assist her 6 year old daughter peeing into a jar or let me do it myself and take our chances on my aim.
She climbed over the front bench seat of our white Rambler Station Wagon with the agility of a gymnast, pee jar in hand. She settled in between my brother and I and opened the repurposed Hellman’s Mayonnaise jar. I also knew the drill and dutifully went along with this absurdity. After all, what did I know? I assumed cars came equipped with pee jars, just like AM/FM radios and power steering.
I filled the jar. I felt very much relieved, I had an empty bladder and had peed as successfully as my brother. I hadn’t spilled a drop.
Mom’s approach to waste removal was to toss the contents of the jar out of the window. I guess the number of fluid ounces of a mayo jar would not accommodate the entire trip with two kids aboard. I always wondered about the car behind us when mom did this. I think I asked about this once. I don’t remember if anyone answered. With all the car windows open it was hard to hear each other, so we didn’t talk much. I am not sure what our reason was for the same behavior at home.
So mom positioned herself for another successful toss. But, for some reason, this time, instead of throwing it out of my window, she reached into the front seat and threw it out of her window. Aerodynamics forced my still warm pee back through my open window where Mom and I unsuspectingly sat. We were drenched.
This was not supposed to happen. No one said a word.
Dad pulled over.
Sometimes you just have to stop!