Seymour’s man releases his second book
By Zach Spicer | The Tribune
You know that Johnny Cash song “I’ve Been Everywhere?”
“I’ve been everywhere, man / Crossed the deserts naked, man / I’ve breathed the mountain air, man / Of trips I’ve had my share, man / I’ve been everywhere” is the refrain.
Patrick Downey could probably write his own version.
When his friends couldn’t go on spring break during his freshman year in college, he went solo. By his senior year, he had traveled through 48 of the 50 states. He also ventured into the Canadian provinces.
The San Jose, Calif. native has also been everywhere while holding more than 30 jobs over the years. Some of them also involved other modes of transport, including a limo and a school bus.
Stories about solo travel are among the many shared in his first book, “If You Think It’s Bad…” Stories about his jobs are among those in his second and latest book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective Slackers”.
“Writing a book for the first time was definitely the biggest novelty I had done in a long time, and it was really nice to do something like publish it, get reviewers, get people to do illustrations, and then create a website,” said Seymour, a 44-year-old man. “I had absolutely no experience in that area, so it was the same kind of thing that it was really good to do something new.”
Growing up in California but attending boarding school in Wisconsin and a university in Minnesota, Downey said those annual trips, by plane, train or car, inspired stories he started writing for the newspaper. school.
At the start of his freshman year at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, in 1996, he and his friends pledged to take an epic spring break trip.
“I had an evening job assembling engines for Nordic Track and put $20 a week into my spring break fund,” Downey said. “In March I had $500, but my friends hadn’t saved anything and they all bailed out.”
His friends made arrangements to go home or stay with relatives, so with the college dorm closing, Downey got into his 1989 Ford Tempo with his $500 and just started driving.
“I thought I would drive the biggest circle I could complete that would get me back to Minnesota in a week,” he said.
On the second day, he had lunch in downtown Chicago and had lunch at the cafeteria at Purdue University. He even drove through Seymour on Interstate 65 toward Louisville, Kentucky, for the night, obviously not knowing at the time that he would end up living there later.
He then explored music in Nashville, Tennessee, and Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, driving as far south as northern Mississippi and as far west as Arkansas before returning to Minnesota.
“During this trip and from there, I kept a AAA road map in my glove compartment and marked out the highways in black marker,” he said. “Every time I went somewhere, I tried to take an unfamiliar route.”
When he was 19, he bought a white 1989 Lincoln Town Car in California after his Tempo died while driving through the Nevada desert on his way home. He then spent the summer plotting a two-week Canadian route to Minnesota via Vancouver, Banff, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
During his first year, while studying his atlas during 17th century British literature, he realized that he could visit all 48 states before graduation if he did. a priority.
“Hence my motivation to return to the road of Vermont after a wedding in Detroit, to work a summer job in a gas station in Montana or to attend the football game of the University of Alabama in 1998”, has said Downey.
He still vividly remembers his senior year when he visited his 48th state, Oklahoma. Surrounded by vast ranch land, Downey turned off a country road and lay back on the hood of his car.
“I stopped, looking at the stars and thinking, ‘This is it. I’ve done it in all 48 states,” he said.
Every time he decided to go on a trip, his parents had a rule for him.
“I was supposed to find a payphone and check in every day,” Downey said. “I just remember thinking to myself, ‘Well, as long as I do this, I can really drive wherever I want.’ I’m grateful that I grew up when I did that so I could have some kind of freedom. I don’t know if it would have been that adventurous. It was really like a modern-day explorer type thing.
After graduating from college, he flew to Alaska and Hawaii, which completed all 50 states.
He also visited Mexico on several occasions, including once as a chaperone for a two-week trip.
“I don’t speak Spanish, but a friend of mine from college was a Spanish teacher at the Lutheran high school where I was in Wisconsin,” Downey said. “Two days before the trip, the Spanish teacher couldn’t go, so she asked me if I would. It was pretty silly. I take care of students, but I don’t speak Spanish. They spoke better Spanish than me.
Before getting married at the age of 30, he made another trip across Canada.
“I would spend my summer driving,” Downey said. “I would get in my car and go off like a month and go explore. I wouldn’t say I like camping, but it’s the cheap way to be able to get away for that long. I love hiking so that’s a big thing I’ve always done is I’ve been out in the woods and hiked different places.
Downey said there was just something special about being behind the wheel.
“I really think it’s freedom,” he said. “It’s exciting, and I think I’m really grateful to be doing all of this before GPS and cell phones, so I really had to sit down with this map and try to figure out where I was. It was really exploring and leaning on, understanding situations, like if your car breaks down or where you’re going to spend the night or where the campgrounds are.
Downey has had a bus driver’s license since he was 21 and was a limo driver in the early 2000s. He had a cell phone, but he still used paper maps and phone books to get people where they had to go.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools, Downey took the time to put together a collection of stories, including several from his travels over the years. This resulted in his first book.
“As my wife can attest, I’ve talked about writing a book all my life,” he said. “My previous job had me commuting between Louisville, so when the pandemic forced me to work from home, I decided to stick to my schedule of getting up at 5 a.m. and using that old commute time to finally finish this book. ”
About a year later, he put together his second book, another collection of stories, but this time focusing on wacky stories related to so many different jobs.
His first job was delivering newspapers at age 12, and he’s had one every year since, usually more than one at a time. He currently serves as #34 (Counsellor at Trinity Lutheran High School in Seymour) and #35 (Substitute Bus Driver for Seymour Community School Corp.).
“I had written a lot of stories and was trying to find a common theme, and I had a lot to do with weird or funny things that had happened in different workplaces, so I realized that I I had had enough of these stories to create an entire book about it,” Downey said.
Now he has a third book in the works.
“I already have most of the stories for the third one. That one will be called ‘Barefoot in Denny’s and Other Bad Choices,'” he said with a smile.
If this title alone makes you want to read it, stay tuned to patdowney.com to see when it comes out.