One thing’s for sure: next year we’ll only be taking half the amount of stuff. And, I’ll buy 5 bags (not too big, mind) so that everyone has somewhere to put their own things. Plus 1 bag for On-The-Road-Refreshments and 1 bag for the Unexpected. Okay, and 1 bag for chargers too.
You twigged this on the way there, when by the second pit stop you couldn’t even open the car door without a flip flop, a pair of sunglasses or a bottle of water tumbling out. This also happens to explain those lone shoes or flip flops that you sometimes spot flattened along the road. Yep – next year’s gonna be different.
This year I conducted some research en-route. On how other people pack their cars. Is there a shopping bag crammed against the passenger window, for example? Have the kids got one of those handy travel bags hanging from the seat in front of them, ensuring all of their favourite snacks are conveniently to hand? Or is mum totally conked out, blissfully snoring away, head cushioned on a rolled-up sweater pressed expertly against the window, shoeless feet resting casually on the dashboard (her military preparations clearly left no time for nails). And, look how much that car’s sagging! They must have enough mayo (we Dutch love our mayo), peanut butter and powdered mash for three weeks.
One day we saw a squeaky clean car, containing squeaky clean people, transporting squeaky clean mountain bikes. On the way there, and on the way back, would you believe. I can only surmise that it was a show model containing show people intended to serve as a gleaming example to all of us mobile dustbins out there.
You can watch every conceivable variety whizz by. And sometimes the exact same type three times in a row, which allows for even greater insight. I must confess that I occasionally experience a small stab of jealousy, especially when I catch sight of those particularly tidy cars. Which were, of course, carefully packed one day in advance, enabling the equally tidy occupants to retire to bed nice and early the night before, without having to worry about emptying the refrigerator or tidying the dishwasher on the morning of departure. Or planning their route last minute. These are the same type of people that always manage to arrive at the reception desk of their carefully chosen accommodation well before it closes, and thus under no circumstances require a torch to find that pesky key, holiday cottage or light switch. Which is just as well really, because they would never ever dream of bringing a torch in the first place. Let alone those 4 extra bath towels, that cafetiere, laptop, carbine hooks, washing line, 6 books and enough medicine for 1 year, because, well, you can’t be too careful. Those impossibly spick-and-span holiday makers never bring a windshield replacement kit to repair a theoretical chipped windshield either. We do though. Because we know what can happen. And it goes without saying that those OCD types won’t have had the foresight to bring along some duct tape, a wifi booster, Victorinox pocket knife, screwdriver, (spare) wind-up flashlight, tea lights, and matches. We have. Admittedly, we did forget the spare blood plasma, but that was a minor oversight.
Mobile dustbins are better prepared
Basically, we’re just far better prepared. In fact, it’s totally irresponsible of those neat and tidy types to hit the road without so much as a Swiss army knife, never mind a windshield repair kit, between them. You simply cannot fathom how they could even consider it. Typical Dutch tidiness. Yeah, yeah. ‘Reckless behaviour’ more like. From now on I’m going to come at them hard – honking my horn wildly, a penknife clenched menacingly between my teeth and a torch strapped firmly to my forehead. Only then will they finally understand.
Because you can bet your life that the woman who answers the emergency breakdown or travel insurance number will ask: how many functions did you say that your penknife has again? 12? Well, what did you expect! That’s not going to happen to us, that’s for sure. And that spare windshield? How many layers of glass did it have exactly? One? Sorry, Mr Neat and Tidy, but you’ll first need to secure a decent set of carbine hooks, a wifi router and a bag of plasma, before we can continue this conversation. Have a nice day though and try not to worry – I’ve heard that taxis are dirt-cheap over there. And please, don’t call again. There are plenty of others far worse off than you, you know.