It happened on July 3, 1986, less than a month from now. The "See America First" campaign had been a smashing success. Everybody without exception turned his back on Europe and decided to visit the U.S.A. instead. They all chose to leave on the same day.
As Conway drove down to the Beltway with his family of three children, his luggage rack loaded with gear, he noticed that the traffic was unusually heavy -- so much so that he was stuck on the Beltway ramp and could not move forward or backward.
He said to his crying children, "You can't see America first without some hardship. Now either sing along with Bruce Springsteen or shut up."
After an hour Conway rolled down his window and asked the driver in the next car what the holdup was.
The man replied, "I don't know. It says on the radio every highway is gridlocked between here and Nebraska. The whole country started up their cars at the same moment."
"Where are they trying to get to?" Conway asked.
"Yellowstone National Park, I think."
"That's where we're going," Conway's wife said.
"We'll fool'em," Conway told her. "Everyone thinks we're heading for Yellowstone Park, but we'll turn off at the next exit and go to Disney World instead."
"I wouldn't go to Disney World," the man in the next car yelled. "The fire department has just closed down Orlando, Fla., for overcrowding."
"The whole city?"
"All the way to Sarasota."
Conway's 13-year-old daughter burst into tears. "You promised to show us America, and we've been sitting here for four hours. We haven't seen anything yet."
"That's where you're wrong," said Conway. "This is America -- cars bumper to bumper as far as the eye can gaze. You don't see this in the Soviet Union."
His wife said, "In the Soviet Union we could have driven from Moscow to Leningrad by now."
"Wait. Once we get out of here we'll head straight for the Statue of Liberty. No one will be there on the Fourth of July."
A motorcycle policeman walked by.
"Officer, I would like to know what the fastest way would be to get to the Statue of Liberty."
"I wouldn't try it if I were you," the cop replied. "Manhattan is ringed with the National Guard."
"To put down the tourist riots. Apparently every family in America had the same reservations for the same rooms, and the only way to get people out of the lobbies was to tear gas them."
"Has it quieted down?" Conway asked.
"It has, now that the mounted police rounded the tourists up with cattle prods and put them in Yankee Stadium."
"How long do you think it will take us to get to the Chevy Chase exit from this ramp?"
"Three, four days at the most."
"But we can't survive for four days waiting to get on the Beltway."
"You should have thought of that before you started heading west. Come to think of it, you're stuck -- you can't move forward and you can't move back -- so you're parking, right?"
"I'm parking against my will."
"I don't care what the reason is. You're still illegally parked. Here's a ticket. If I find you here in a couple of hours you'll get another one."
"This is unfair."
"I would like you to take a Breathalyzer test, too," the cop said.
"Anybody that takes his family on an auto trip on July 3 has got to be drinking."