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? TC mark

image – tophera

Chelsea Fagan

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

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • Nein

    Affirms the notion that motorists are entitled asshats.

    • Tryptamine

      No, they bought a car and therefore have rights to set whatever rules they like.

    • Graeme

      And your comment affirms the notion that you’re too lazy to get your ass up and get a driver’s license and/or you’re a twelve year old attempting to troll, unsuccessfully. 

      • Nein

        It’s 2012, why are we still driving cars? I have a driver’s license, but use my feet, a bike, or public transit to get around like a smart person.

    • EAZ

      To quote my father, “My house, my rules!”

    • seriously?

      well someone’s trying too hard to be a cynic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    My main one is put your damn seatbelt on.  I don’t want to have to buy a new windshield. 

    • Guest

      I was on a roadtrip recently and a friend in the backseat was unbuckled. As soon as I noticed it, I asked him to buckle. I was pretty shocked he wasn’t already since he had just been in a bad accident a month before where his car got totaled.

      On the way back from our trip, again he was unbuckled. I was pretty pissed this time and asked him to buckle. It was bad weather and heavy, high-speed traffic. Not an hour later we were rear-ended at a very high speed. No one was hurt, luckily, but seeing the accident scene, you’d think there had been fatalities.

      SO glad I asked him to buckle. What an idiot.

  • http://twitter.com/Joao_Nuno João Nuno Álvares

    The fact that there’s a reference to Jeremy Clarkson is amazing.

  • http://twitter.com/emilcDC Emil Caillaux

    On #1: 100% yes. If I’m driving and you yell my name out of nowhere, my instinct will be to hit the brakes immediately.

  • http://baileypowell.com/ B

    You forgot the people that think they can smoke in your car. Or, even more bothersome, the individuals who know YOU don’t smoke and still feel okay asking you if they can ?!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VYDVROKY4PUBOKUHB3QF42FH2Y Paul S

    My big rule for riding in my car is “KEEP YOUR FUCKING FEET OFF MY DASH, ASSHOLE!!!”

    That drives me nuts when I see it in other cars – so if I see that behavior in MY car, I will fly into a fit of rage that would make The Hulk tremble. And I mean seriously, is a reclining passenger seat so uncomfortable that you need to awkwardly put your feet up on a place not designed to do so? Asshole!

  • Poo

    This article should be titled “Reasons no one wants to ride in my car”.

  • steph

    #2 realllly gets to me sometimes.  I used to give a friend rides (carpooling to work and back, she has no license/car), and she would change the radio all the time without asking.  At times in the beginning I said ‘sure’ but eventually got so sick of her taste in music, always switching off the song I liked and was just getting into to settle on something that I would almost never listen to, especially not when done TO me.  I passively let the frustration build in me, thinking her home life (always being derided, actions blown out of proportion by her oft-cruel mother) meant that she didn’t deserve my fountain of frustration to come spewing out at her.  I thought it was the ‘right’ thing to do, but just reading the 2nd point on this list made me want to exclaim my agreement: PASSENGERS SHOULD NOT TOUCH THE DRIVER’S MUSIC.  (However, down the line, I carpooled with a friend, I was the one who didn’t own a vehicle, and would sometimes drive, pick music the owner, riding as passenger, probably was put-off by– the radio stations left few choices for enjoyable music… and thus I think it’s fair to share, at least in carpool scenarios…)

  • Sophia

    Ugh, eating is the one that KILLS me. Fast food makes me want to vomit, please wait until you are out of my car to open it so that the small enclosed area doesn’t smell like grease for the next three hours. That goes for buses too; it kills me when people around me open fast food. 

    The rest of these were all valid points too. I’d ride in your car.

  • Maggie

    So true, anyone who critiques another person’s driving after they agreed to get a ride with them needs to stfu. 

  • http://www.joblessinthecity.com/ Jobless in the City

    This is why I don’t drive.

  • Brian L.

    #2 — It’s also frustrating when your passengers decide they want to test the volume limits of your speaker system and to have drivers hear you coming from three miles away by cranking your music up as loud as it will go (more frustrating if it’s not even your musical selection). No, I don’t want to blow my speakers and, yes, it makes it hard to focus on the road when I can’t even hear myself think.

    #5 — I was driving someone once who asked me to pull over so she could buy a sandwich because she was hungry. Her choice of sandwich was something very pungent reeking of onions and garlic. I like onions and garlic as much as the next guy, but I don’t need residual odors lingering in my car for weeks, nor do I want to smell someone eating. So I wouldn’t let her eat the thing, which denial I took some secret pleasure in because I did not care for this individual at all.

  • Cinnabonisgood

    3. I know where I’m going.


  • Guest

    Do not touch or comment on my stuff.  I know my trunk looks like a landfill. 

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