Friday, March 26, 2010


Spring break in Florida is a busy time and an interesting time. Traffic on the Turnpike picked up ten fold and kept this old semi retired woman hopping. Most of my co workers complained when it got busy but I loved it. The day was more interesting and time really flew. I enjoyed my customers.

You know, I am sure cars full of girls came through but I only remember the cars full of young men, wearing their college colors with pride and anticipation. There were three distinct groups who came through the toll booths, depending on the particular stage of the spring break.

When it would start, the young men were so full of promise. It was not unlikely for them to perform at least 3 high fives over some hilarious comment while waiting for change in my lane. Fist bumping wasn't in fashion yet.

I am certain I may have been the butt of a joke or two. Probably they were hoping I wasn't an example of what to expect on the beaches but most often it was just high spirits unleashed. I may have reminded them of a favorite grandmother for they would often linger at my window for a touch of home, a kind smile and information. Then merrily off to adventure they went.

Money flowed freely. Each passenger would wave a twenty trying to be the one to pay. "Let me pay, no let me, you bought gas." The generosity was refreshing till I remembered it was Mom and Dad's money. They were convinced they had enough to have a time they would grin about for years.

I wouldn't take too many days before that fun stage would shift to a lower gear. For a while it looked like we might have given the state back to the Indians for car after car came through with red faced boys gingerly trying to avoid the seat backs. Sunburn insists on really good posture with zero contact of any material.

Often their eyes matched their faces. Seems no one packed sunscreen and the previous nights inhaling of alcohol had made them a bit bloody eyed, tired and cranky. The bloom was off the rose. Exuberance had turned to painful gloom as heads hurt and stomachs churned. There were occasional high fives but usually the hands only connected with air.

I had no doubts however, when ever they got where they were going, the return of drink and thrill of the chase would dull the sunburn pain, steady the stomach and kill the headache. Happiness would again rule. When I saw them however I was in the middle of the state and they had a way to go for rebirth at a new site.

At this stage they tried to hide from my white haired granny image. They were a tad embarrassed. Instead of light hearted banter, they muttered and studied the floor mats. I bathed them in my sweetest smile and told them to have a good day. They paid with tens rather grudgingly and no one fought over the toll.

Then time for spring break passed and they were heading home. The sunburn had morphed into pieces of skin hanging from their foreheads. The dreaded peal that made acne look healthy.

They were still wearing their school colors but the school shirts were wrinkled, sweat stained , with a touch of mustard crusted with sand. They no longer had pained looks however but wore blissful if exhausted expressions. Each one thought he had experienced the best time of his life. They were tired but a happy tired.

Then I burst their bubble with a $3.25 toll. A bit of panic erased the blissful smiles. Each waited for the other to pony up but all was quiet. No more waving of twenties and tens, in fact, there were several pockets pulled inside out. Empty wallets were being pulled apart looking for a hidden twenty. Now if I were a good grandma type, I would have paid their toll but multiply that car by hundreds and grandma would have had to mortgage the farm.

All doors would fly open as they scrounged under the seats looking for stray quarters. The tolls were often paid in very sticky change. I tried not to think of the origin of "sticky." Many times, an impatient traveler behind them would offer to pay their toll just to get traffic moving. Perhaps they remembered their own spring break experience.

Eventually, they would all head home with the help of credit cards and with outlandish, decidedly embellished tales to tell. We were left with once more with the average tourist and commuter. Kind of missed the boys.

I never saw the Spring Breaker in his natural habitat. I only saw them when they were migrating. Such an interesting species.

Pretty sure I would not want anyone I cared about to participate in SB for good judgement never made the trip with them, but it seems to be a right of passage for college kids.

Did you enjoy SB or did you let your heirs participate? If they were young men, I may have seen them.


  1. No never my parents never had the $$$ for a spring fling anywhere. I stayed home.

    I did participate in school sponsored senior trips, both high school and college.

    We start a different rite Saturday, yet indeed one that will probably culminate in one of our own one day, a funeral.

    We start the long trek to N.C. Sat. Forunately, my rescue dose of rectally administered Valium interupted the seizure before it became grand mal. Pretty amazing stuff.

    Although we have been parparing for a month we still are not ready. And Luckie had one of her near seizures this week.

  2. Another interesting story, Patti. I'm too old to have experienced Spring Break; I don't think there was such a thing in my day. :) Even my grandchildren stay pretty close to home when school's out; the parents usually have several days worth of chores for them to do. [Our family leads a very quiet life.]

  3. Oh such a tale to did it great..

  4. What an interesting post. I can understand why you enjoyed your job as a toll collector. You were interested in your customers and very observant.

    Never went on spring break, although I wanted to. My parents weren't about to let me go off unsupervised.

  5. Teenage guys do have a knack for turning off all their CAUTION buttons then they're out on their own, don't they?!

    We were in the Midwest when ours were in school, and we usually came south for a family beach experience. (How embarrassing, huh?!) One year we went to Captiva Island. I'd packed sunscreen, hats--all the right things--but son got up early the very first morning "to go for a walk." Four hours later he returned, FRIED, after falling asleep on the beach. He had to stay in the condo the rest of the trip--chills, pain, no appetite. We drove him around the island the last day, just so he could say he'd seen it!

  6. I was never a spring breaker (I usually went north if I could), but have gone south a few times since. I would be in The Caribbean a lot more now if I could. Great story.

  7. I'm too old for spring break - and we were way too poor - but a couple of my kids went. I tried not to ask many questions and I for sure didn't want to see pictures! blessings, marlene

  8. Well that was something I'd never heard of: Spring break? It must be a typical American thing.I like your story as always!

  9. Because I worked on a university campus most of my adult life, my experience of spring break was a time of wonderful quiet. I could finally get some work done without constant interruption. When the students came back, they often returned with all kinds of infectious maladies. They were exhausted and exhilarated.

    I never went on spring break when I was a student. I always had a job and had to work. When I see pics of students on spring break these days, they always look overtly and overly sexualized and pretty crude.

  10. Spring raised in a college town, we just enjoyed the Break from all the college kids. It was nice to have our town all to ourselves for a short time.
    I worked my way thru college and never had the money or time to Spring Break.

  11. Nitwit.
    I'm not sure they had spring breaks in my day.
    Glad the Valium worked for Luckie. Have a safe trip.

    You were smart and your grandkids didn't miss anything but a huge headache.

    4th Sister,
    Thanks, it was fun to recall.

    You had quite smart parents. 18 year olds don't really have the sense to behave responsibily. The whole purpose of SB is to go a bit wild.

    Sunburn is brutal. Poor fellow, that really killed his vacation. At least it was memorable. Captiva is one place I missed.

    Gee, and I thought I saw you go through.:)) Sounds like you are seeking warmer climes.

    Pretty sure you were smart not to press for details. This is one time when ignorance is bliss.

    Reader Wil,
    I didn't know or not if it were just an American thing. Will give you a brief account of the holiday on your blog.

    Never thought of it from the educator's view point. What a great holiday for you. Think shows like "Girls Gone Wild" have turned it into a pretty raunchy time.

    You and robin have similar viewpoints. Ones I hadn't thought of having always been close to the desired destination.
    I went to college when I was in my mid thirties so it was not on my plate either.

  12. My SB experience in 1969 was a trip to Hawaii which lasted 3 months (all of Spring Quarter)! It was a blast. I'm ready for a spring break right now. Can I still enjoy it at age 60?

    Pat--wish you would have listened to the video song on my blog-- "Put Your Shoes on Lucy". It's such a cute song. Since your're from the South, you should especially enjoy it.

  13. Well, as you know, I am older than you and I grew up New York. When we had oue "Easter Vacation"--that's what it was called back then---We went to The Theatre every performance we could. 8--Count them 8 Broadway shows during that wonderful week...It Was GLORIOUS, beyond belief. No drinking, no sunburns, no 'hanky-panky'....But it was so enriching in every way--I am grateful I grew up during the Golden Age of Broadway...! That was how I would spend my Spring Break. And, back then Broadway Theatre Tickets were under $8.00 a piece for Orchestra Seats...A BARGAIN, if there ever was one.

  14. I never went on a spring break trip but my daughters went to the Bahama's on spring break when they were seniors in college. They had the time of their lives according to them. Another great post Patti!

  15. Sheri,
    Three months in Hawaii ??? Good grief, any youngster reading this is now green with envy.
    Sorry about your song but I am catchy tune allergic. Every morning this week I have awakened to "kitchy, kitchy, ya, ya, ya" going thru my head. It is driving me nuts. Thanks-- but no room for any others right now.

    I'm too old also Naomi. If they had SB when I was a puppy, I didn't know about it.
    Eight dollar broadway show??? Wow!! you can't get in to see a movie for that these days. You were smart and used your time wisely with no hangovers and great memories.

    The Bahamas is a lovely place where Rum is served in lieu of water. I know they had a great time on the beautiful beaches with a crystal clear ocean. Just hope they didn't tell you all. Somethings a parent doesn't need to know.

  16. Fun to read. Spring break was never a big deal with either one of my kids. I would have worried myself sick if had been.

  17. I never even heard of Spring Break when I was growing up.... I'm not even sure we were out of school that week.....No memory of that at all!!!

    BUT--when my sons were growing up, we/they knew about it. Thank Goodness they didn't participate in it though. I was a single parent at that time and all of my sons had to work odd jobs after school.

    When I lived in Texas, the kids would go down into Mexico... SO dangerous --then and now... I hope that my grands never participate in Spring Break.


  18. Let's face it, back in my day there was no such thing as Spring Break. At least not that I knew of. When I was in grade school, we even went to school on Good Friday, our school was across the street from a church, and the grade school children were all marched across after lunch for a church service for Good Friday. Now that would go over really well in this day and age. Back then no one made any fuss. Even when I was in high school I think we got Good Friday off and that was it. Now a days they get a whole week off. I never went to college, so I have no idea if college students did that back then or not.

  19. This time to unwind, to relax, to have fun.

    thanks for sharing!

  20. my son did SB and came back with an awful tattoo
    it's delightful to watch him shake his head over it all these years later

  21. Linda,
    Considering the trouble some of them got into, it could really age a parent.

    I heard they were telling kids not to go to Mexico this year but they don't listen well at that age.
    You and I both missed out.
    Good luck with the Grands.

    I know, we never got a whole week off either. In 1960 the movie "Where the Boys Are" glamorized it so that was near the beginning.

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Sounds like you might have indulged.

    I knew someone out there had to have done it. Hope you had a blast and at least you can remember the times. Wonder if you would recommend it to your own family?

    Aw, revenge really is sweet isn't it? It must have been a doozie.

  22. Thank you Patti for explaining what Spring Break is! Interesting to see how various nations celebrate Easter and spring.

  23. Spring breaker I have never heard of it. But I hope it was fun.

  24. Nope...never participated in anything like...I'm sure it was fascinating to watch...a very witty post! I loved your description of before, during and after!!! From the sounds of it, I don't think I missed much...Great post! Love, Janine XO

  25. I never went on spring break, either. I married young and had kids right away. When you are that young you just don't have what it takes to do the break like that. Kids were usually out during that time, too. A week alone would have suited me just fine...but we did have some fun anyway. I finished school and no longer had to worry about going anywhere on spring break.

  26. Reader Wil,
    You are most welcome.

    Femin Susan,
    So sorry, I forget not everyone is familiar with our celebratons.
    Just to explain Spring Break. In the states, the universities shut down for a week or so around Easter.
    The students head in mass for tourist spots usually near water to totally let their hair down. They go quite wild. Hope that helps.

    Sniffles and Smiles,
    Well thank you very much Janine. You didn't really miss much except a ton of killed off brain cells from all the alcohol. Better to watch than to do.

    Amber Star,
    Me too. By the time I went to college, spring break was just a time to relax.

  27. Interesting post and even more interesting observations! Spring is in the air huh?!We have only summer break here usually.. I enjoyed reading this, although I dunno how I ended up being so late :) cheers!!

  28. lostworld,
    So glad you made it. The spring breaks here only last a week but the college kids pack a lot into that week. They pretty much go completely wild.
    You aren't missing anything.