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The never-ending debate over shortcuts

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The never-ending debate over shortcuts

This map depicts some of the routes that Jason Campbell and Dave Campbell tried to see if short cuts are any faster than straight routes to get across Manteca.


POSTED December 17, 2013 1:59 a.m.

Take the freeway – we’ll get there faster.”

“I’ve been driving these streets for as long as you’ve been alive. I think I know where the hell it is that I’m going. Don’t you worry about it.”

The decades change. The styles change. But the argument remains the same – my father, for all of his wonderful traits, believes that he has the entire asphalt world wired – it doesn’t matter whether he’s traversing the bridge to Staten Island or trying to give his bleary-eyed son directions to pick him up at the Secaucus train terminal.

You know that one. The one that doesn’t exist and leads you to try and find your way back and forth and back again on the New Jersey Turnpike.

So, I don’t think that I’m out of line when I suggest that maybe we go this way because it takes too long to get back over the direction he was planning.

“Too many stop signs,” he likes to say. “I don’t have to make a left turn if I go this way.”

Yeah, but if you go that way you’re going 54 miles out of the way.

Then the arguing starts. The blaming. The obligatory raining of four-letter words that can’t be reprinted in a family newspaper.

At this point in my life, I don’t get nervous when I find myself in precarious scenarios.

One very fine New Years Eve the group I was with left me at the bar at Fisherman’s Wharf with a girl that I was convinced I was in love with. When I went back out front, I was all alone. And it hit me – my wallet and my cell phone were in her trunk, back at the four star hotel at Union Square that we were staying at.

But I didn’t panic. I made my way to that hotel – with cops and lowlifes and drunks and anybody else that could help serving as my guiding light. And I found it. Somewhere in there is an off-the-books cab (I had $4 in crumpled ones) that was a little too eager to help.

Had I gone with him, I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.

But I am. I survived it. I made it through unscathed.

And not even that was the right preparation for driving the streets of Manteca with Dave Campbell. I call him Dad, but my friends – and coworkers – know him as Dave Campbell, so that’s what we’ll call him here.

You know that ornery old bull that nobody messes with – the one that they just let run free out in the pasture because he’s too much to try and stud? That’s my father. He does what he does, and he does it in a way in which only he can understand. I believe that it’s a trait that was passed down by my grandmother – a salty, tough-as-nails old bird that didn’t much care for anything other than what she wanted to do.

This is how Dave Campbell drives. After a doctor’s appointment last month, I tried to tell him to go one way and he told me, in not so many words, that I was crazy.

And a light bulb went off.

You know that seen in Days of Thunder where Harry shows the team owner what the tires look like when Cole Trickle runs his way, and then they run Harry’s way. And besides not burning them up, his lap times are actually faster.

We were going to see who could set that lap time on fresh tires.

I took a little bit of scouting. It took a little bit of work. And it took some goading on my behalf in order to get him to set aside enough time to make our little, completely unscientific experiment possible.

Some of the things that we discovered might surprise you.

I guess you have to be the judge on that.

So go….run along now. You have some judging to do. The rest of us have to get back to pretending not to care.

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