5 Rules For Riding In My Car

As I now live in a city in which the benefits of owning a car are largely outweighed by the hour and a half you spend finding a parking spot at least twice a day, I have gotten rid of my various trusty steeds for the time being. But I still had several solid years of car-ownership, from a large, relatively new SUV that made me embarrassed to be American, to a 4-speed Toyota Tercel which stuck to my thighs like painful flypaper the second summer started. And one of the few refreshing things about giving up the autonomy of a car, aside from the money you save and the various urine-scented characters you get to meet on public transportation every day, is no longer having to berate or seethe in silence at my passengers for being disrespectful children in my own personal space. My car is my safe zone, and it comes with rules. If you can’t respect them, you can drop yourself off at work/ the airport. I’m not a chauffer, these rules are to be followed.

1. Do not tell me to look at things every five seconds.

I’m sure that the text message you just received, video you are looking at, hand gesture you are making, or interpretive dance you are performing right now is the best thing my weathered eyes will ever have the pleasure of feasting upon, and I am missing out. But I am not one of those terrifying people who spends 76% of their actual driving time turning around and looking at the passengers to fully engage in the conversation. Incidentally, I also do not want to die. And I feel like one of the fastest ways to compromise that would be to keep my gaze focused on the person in the passenger seat signing me a long story about what happened to them in line at the grocery store this afternoon. I appreciate that things are going on in my car, and I’m sure that they’re cool, but I just can’t look at them right now.

2. Stop touching my music.

No matter how many times this is said, no matter how many different ways it is phrased, there will inevitably be that one guy in your car who takes your iPod or, worse yet, plugs in his own, and starts flipping around to something “you’ve got to hear.” That music is never good. It’s never good. Even if it’s the most beautiful song that I’ve been looking for ever since I briefly heard it as I was being awoken from my concussion on a beach by a hot redheaded mermaid and have now finally found it, I hate it. I hate it because you’ve taken away my autonomy in one of my only sacred spaces and asserted your sonic authority. Whatever it is that you’re so pressed to listen to, you could easily have resolved this issue by taking the initiative (and the gas money) to drive your damn self.

3. I know where I’m going.

I don’t care if you know a secret pathway to get to the party that cuts through Narnia and will spit us back out directly into the perfectly-situated parking space with its own private valet service, stop telling me where to go. I have the route that I know, that I’m comfortable with, and that I can anticipate — stop trying to make me deviate from it. Every time I take a “shortcut,” I either end up sitting in mind-numbing traffic, or getting irretrievably lost. Even if it makes me a tired old fogey, I am going to take the path that I know is sure to get me where I’m going. We can use all of your crazy back roads when it’s your tires at risk for getting stuck in the mud.

4. Stop critiquing my driving.

If your entire mission in my car is to point out that I’m shifting too soon, that I could take a turn faster, or that I should downshift whenever possible instead of using brakes — you can walk, Jeremy Clarkson. I got my license, I don’t have any points on it, I know what I’m doing. Am I the best driver in the world? No. But knowing that at all moments, someone is analyzing my performance and waiting to tell me to slow down or speed up when I’m in the middle of changing lanes is only going to make me have a minor panic attack and swerve into oncoming traffic. We’re going to get into an accident, it will be your fault, and I will do my best to have the biggest impact end up on the passenger side. When we stop, feel free to make a note or two about something you saw, and I’m sure I’ll appreciate the feedback. But if your life’s ambition is to critique the way other people go through a roundabout, you can just work for the DMV and get it over with.

5. No eating.

Once, I was driving with a friend on a fast food run before we went to a friend’s house to watch a game and have some beers. All was well, and our order came out perfect, down to the letter — a rarity in drive-thru dining if there ever was one. On the way back, though, he not only opened the bags to root around in them (thus breaking the essential heat seal to maintain the crispy integrity of the french fries) he also pulled out his burger, unwrapped it and started eating it with impunity. Now, there are three core problems with this, from my perspective: 1) I am unable to join in the gluttonous festivities, and thus incredibly jealous and even more hungry. 2) The inevitable mayonnaise-y mess that was to become of my passenger seat area. 3) The fact that now, instead of eating together in friendship, I was going to have to painfully watch my comrade down his lunch while I waited to tuck in to my lukewarm meal, rendered unappetizing from its long-opened bag. These are serious problems, serious breaches of friendship. Embarrassing as it is that I have to remind people of this rule, I think it may be amongst the most important. Food is a beautiful thing, don’t sully it by scarfing it down in my car. Let’s be adults, shall we? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – tophera

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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