Road Trip!

Innovation and technology introduce new problems even as they solve old ones.

Take horses, for instance. Once content to graze peacefully in fenceless pastures, when they became beasts of burden they helped move people and goods throughout the recently settled and rapidly growing New York City.

Now Google how many astonishing tons of manure accumulated daily in NYC at the turn of the 20th century as a result of horsepower.

Much has changed since horseless carriages first took to muddy roads.

And we humans are, if nothing else, enormously adaptable.

As cars evolved – along with our transportation systems – so did we. As did horses. The deer, not so much.

We invented, for instance, car games in order to provide diversion for passengers otherwise bored during lengthy auto trips by tedious scenery and natural beauty.

It was not amazing enough to traverse distances that would have been impossible to achieve on foot. Or on a horse. In even a lifetime.

Passengers relentlessly, and annoyingly, asked: “Are we there yet?”

We simply had to find ways to amuse ourselves.

Because getting there was more important than going there.

One car game involved identifying states associated with license plates on the cars sharing the road with us. Advanced players tallied the number of cars by state, to determine who was winning.

One is reminded of Simon and Garfunkel’s “counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike . . .”

Another game involved making proprietary claims about stuff we had no business making ownership assertions: “Water on my side!”

Much evolved, today’s auto passengers have abandoned such old-fashioned silliness. Turning their attention, instead, to games and movies as screened on displays mounted on SUV ceilings and seat backs.

Passing such displays, device-less passengers holler to drivers: “Wait, wait, slow down . . . I love this part of the movie!”

License plate games are passé, digital devices now rule.

Coming next to a nearby roadway: the driverless car currently being piloted – no pun – by Google. What this means is we’ll need to invent games for the person who used to be called “driver.”


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