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Happy Throttle Day!

We need a new national holiday. The traditional ones are great, but we haven't added much to the line-up since Christ was a child.

We need a new national holiday. The traditional ones are great, but we haven’t added much to the line-up since Christ was a child.

And it has to be something that Hallmark can’t get a piece of. (If you think I’m still bitter about last Mother’s Day, where I forked out $5.99 for what seemed like a run-of-the-mill card, you’d be right. But, to be fair, it was made of hard to come-by material — paper — and it did have an ingenious, hard-to-come-up-with message inside — “Thanks Mom. Love You.”)

A new national holiday I’d like to see would be something that might be called Throttle Day. As you might surmise — from the proposed name and from the fact we are a car magazine and not Crochet a Cat Sweater Monthly — Throttle Day would involve motorized vehicles.

Basically it would be designated for road trips. Every able-bodied driver would have to go on a road trip that day. You could go longer, but the minimum duration allowed would be eight-hours, just like your average workday.

That’s the other thing; it would have to be taken during a workday — it couldn’t be celebrated on a weekend — in order to increase the “playing hookey” quotient.

Out of necessity, this would entail that it be a floating holiday (to keep roadway congestion down). I don’t think we’ve had a floating national holiday in this country, so it’s high time we did. This might screw up the work schedules a bit for the folks in essential services, but we could manage. I, for one, would volunteer to spell someone off who works in the cooler at The Beer Store.

Throttle Day would serve many purposes. One, it would bring stress levels down, as all holidays do. Two, it would stimulate the economy. And three, it would brings us all closer as a nation. The last point may be a bit tenuous, but you always need a catch phrase when you’re trying to start a movement, and who doesn’t want nation building?

Only a couple of rules would be necessary to keep Throttle Day as intended: You have to stop for pie, or butter tarts, at least once during the drive; If you don’t go on a road trip, you don’t get the day off. Harsh yes, but only fair. We catch you with a bran muffin, or find you at home grouting the shower, and you’ll be one sorry puppy. (Details on the para-military Throttle Day Enforcement Corps, and the official Throttle Day Tribal Council, TBA).

Generally, to keep in the spirit of things, you would be encouraged — though not bound — to forgo franchised establishments and all navigational devices, except a compass. The optimum itinerary for the day would be to pick some small place you haven’t been before within shooting distance, and then try to get there through the countryside by dead reckoning.

My inspiration for a possible Throttle Day holiday was a road trip that happened, some years ago, by spontaneous combustion. In my early days of automotive writing, when I was still holding down a regular “day job,” I was offered, out of the blue, the use of a just-introduced Porsche 944S. I had never even driven a Porsche before, so this was A BIG DEAL. I immediately called my friend Vic P. (as opposed to Vic T., another gearhead I sometimes mention in this column). Like me, Vic was at work. All I told him was that I had to pick up a Porsche 944S in Toronto. All he said back to me was, if we left right now (we were both in Cambridge, ON), we would be driving a Porsche in less than two hours.

Rush hour traffic screwed us up a bit, so it took about three hours to finally achieve our objective. We drove the 944 around Toronto until about 11 p.m., before finally thinking of maybe heading home.

But before we had a chance to turn west towards Cambridge, we had a moment of clarity. Consequently, we turned the beast from Stuttgart suddenly north — deciding that an impromptu visit to our mutual friend, Greg, was in order. He lived about three hours away in Port Elgin, on the shores of Lake Huron. We arrived at around three in the morning, and had to bang on the door a while, but Greg greeted us about as cordially as one could have hoped, considering the circumstances.

As fate would have it, his girlfriend from Cambridge was there too — another surprise visitor. Later that morning, all of us called in sick and/or missing in action, and proceeded to have one of the best days ever — even if, looking back on it now, we didn’t really accomplish much. We drove to the deserted beach (it was early November), and threw rocks at the water. We visited some more friends that also happened to be home for some reason I can’t remember. We played Risk.

Then Vic and I jumped in the Porsche and took off; this time northwest to Georgian Bay. We meandered a while up there, and eventually headed south to Cambridge. Vic drove the last bit, and I will always remember that when we turned into his subdivision, he took the long way to the house, in an effort to squeeze out an extra minute of driving. I will also remember his reluctance to get out of the car when we finally came to a stop, even though it was way past midnight, and our driving to sleep ratio over the last two days was as imbalanced as China-US trade.

Next day, we were both back at work.

Looking back, I’m always appalled at the meagre amount of days I’ve skipped off work or school. It’s embarrassing really. But that’s just the way it is. In the present, the weight of not wanting to be stuck in high school, or the consequence of missing a deadline at work, or a mortgage payment at the bank, is more apparent to you than the short string of days you ultimately get handed. That realization only comes much later, when you’re in no position to take them back.

I only suggest Throttle Day, so that there might be an institutionalized process to help some of us — the spontaneously-challenged — grab a few more of those days as they whiz by. Just a thought.

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