My Cochella Trip

As a young university student, what is more fun that road tripping across country for a concert? I decided to go with a coworker, her boyfriend and her friend. We took my old beat up car because she didn’t want to put that many miles on her brand new ride.

I had a great mechanic tune it up for me before we left and off we went for an adventure. We all started out in great spirits. We all took turns driving. We planned on going through the Yellowstone National Park on our way to California from Minnesota. Unfortunately as we drove up to the entrance, we found it was closed for the season.

Our trip started to turn sour after that. My coworker was driving and we just added on hours to our trip now that we had to go around the park instead of through it. To compensate, she was driving faster. Not surprisingly red and blue lights filled the cab of the car in no time. Unfortunately she was not in a good mood and didn’t put on any charm for the officer. After she was gifted with a nice fat ticket, we continued on our journey with a little less lead on the pedal.

We had made it to Utah and it was dark. Her boyfriend was driving and the car started acting funny. Who knows how long the check engine light had been on, poor old car driving through the mountains. We pulled into a gas station parking lot where the car seized up completely. There were some guys there about our age. They were nice enough to call up their dad who knew stuff about cars.

Once the young guys left, the two other females I was with started crying. The guy just tried to console his girlfriend. I really didn’t understand what the fuss was about. This is how every single road trip with my dad went. The car broke, we fixed it, we kept going. So when two older gentlemen came along and introduced themselves as the young guy’s elders, I was the only one they wanted to talk to. They checked under the hood and asked for the car’s mechanical state up to the gas station demise. It was determined nothing could be done that night, so they were kind enough to give us a ride to a hotel and they’d talked to the owner of the gas station and we were ok leaving the car there.

The hotel was fine and the one gentleman planned on picking us up in the morning and taking us to the rental place. He said he was, “Saving the hippies.” This I could only determine was due to the longer hair my coworker’s boyfriend had. By now, we were a day late and there was no chance of seeing one of the bands my coworker was looking forward to. We heard about that a lot. It was determined that it was completely my fault that things weren’t going right and I believe that was the end of whatever friendship that coworker and I had. She continued a verbal assault in my direction for the remainder of the trip.

We spent the evening in the hotel calling home just to let all the parents know where we were and what was happening. It was pretty uneventful, but I do remember the room having an interesting jungle theme even painted on the walls inside the room. We went to a nearby restaurant for dinner and we bought some bus tickets to get home from where we were. So now that we had a plan, the coworker seemed pacified for a moment. We’d take the rental to the concert and after returning it, we’d take a bus home, leaving my car dead in Utah. RIP.

Good to his word, the older man showed up with his wife to pick us up in a large pickup. He was quite funny. I was in the front seat with him and his lady, which made sense since I was still the only one he’d actually spoke with. He was telling us stories and asking us about our trip and school and what not. Then he asked if we had tattoos. We all had a tattoo but nothing too visible. He lifted up the sleeve of his shirt and said the only advice he had for us was to not get your wife’s name tattooed on your arm.

I looked over to see a name scrolled across his arm and looked at the couple questioningly.

He said because it really annoys your second wife. And then his lady next to him agreed full heartedly.  He asked what we planned to do with the car. He said he could take it and let the boys tinker with it if we had no way of getting it back. I agreed that would be a great solution and one less worry for me.  They dropped us off and made sure we still had their phone number in case we needed anything else.

A tall man came out to meet us in a lot full of cars. We ended up with a gold or silver little car. I don’t really remember it well, but it got us there. I remember the office in which we signed the paperwork and I remember that it was my coworker who was the oldest and was in charge of driving it. So she did all the paperwork.

We made it to the second day of the concert and after watching one band together, the three of them went one way and I decided to check out some other things. I made some new friends to enjoy the music with and at the end of the night, they wandered around with me through parking lot after parking lot until we located the car, not by the car itself but the three people standing around it with arms crossed, scowling at me.

On the way to a hotel for the night, I got to hear about how long they had to wait for me. Funny, you’d think they’d be talking about how great the concert was. Someone was still sore that they’d missed the band she wanted to see the night before. We heard about that too.  I enjoyed every minute and I found even the negativity of my companions amusing. We were up early and on the road. It didn’t seem to take very long to get back to the rental place.

The tall man bid us inside and said he had some business to discuss with us. We followed him inside believing there was more paperwork to sign or something. The man was very calm and sat down behind his desk where he took a spoon and began eating pomegranate seeds. We looked at each other and back at him. He’d seemed to have forgotten we were there. We all quietly watched him finish his strange snack before he pushed away the empty container and crossed his hands. He looked up and asked which one of us was Jesse. I answered and took the chair in front of him as he indicated. Then he told us the news that my dad had purchased a car from him for me. My dad is great and he wanted it to be a surprise, which it was. I was thrilled and I thought my companions would be as well.

We finished up all the paperwork and the man handed me the keys to a nice big white boat of a car. It had nice plush blue seats and was very spacious. The boyfriend and friend of my coworker were excited about driving home in such luxury but my coworker was mad again. Now we had purchased bus tickets that we’d have to cancel and we couldn’t get all our money back. Individually, the cost was pretty minimal for the bus ticket loss, but we heard about it.

The complaining and bitter words tossed at me all the way home eventually even made the boyfriend and friend tell her she was going too far and they became more friendly towards me to try to even it out a little.

Overall, I enjoyed the whole thing. It may not have gone to plan but there were so many silly, funny experiences we would have missed if it had. The people were all so kind and the fact help was so readily available when we needed it and some of the scenes were so surreal it seemed like we’d tripped into an Indie film, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. But it was a nice illustration of how one can suck all the fun out of their life by focusing on the negative too.

It was a great lesson to learn at a young age. There is always more than one way at looking at every situation and why not choose a positive view?

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