Back Seat Driver
getting harder and harder to back seat drive these days, but I get a
lot of practice with life in the fast lane while commuting to work
every day. The speed limit on the Interstate is 70 miles an hour, but
that seems to be merely a suggestion. The actual speed limit is
as-fast-as-you-can-go- without-hitting-the-car-in-front-of-you. This
offers excellent back seat driving opportunities.
When I see red tail lights coming on
ahead, I somehow have the idea that our car should be slowing down
instead of accelerating. Mentally willing the car to slow down
doesnít work well, and we fly up on the car in front of us before
screeching to a stop. Sudden braking episodes make me draw in my
breath quickly and nearly choke, just one of the hazards of back seat
People from out of the area seldom
drive fast enough. They probably think the speed limit is actually the
speed limit. I hold on the seat belt with one hand as it hurts my
shoulder when it clinches. Iíve not figured out what causes it to do
this, but it seems to have something to do with fast braking.
My back seat driving skills are
challenged the most when brake lights on a car in front come on and
Iím not sure whether they intend to stop or are just aggravated
because our car is too close. Usually the car will pull over and get
out of the way. A few of them refuse and have to be tailgated
I really hate it when the brakes on
my side of the car donít work, probably because there arenít any.
Iíve tried stomping the floor with both feet and nearly standing up,
but the car just keeps right on going. Back seat drivers are so
I try to concentrate on something
else: the lines in the road, the trash along the highway, the cloud
formations, anything other than how fast we are going and how quickly
we could stop. I try not to
grind my teeth, but the tight muscles in my shoulders may give me
away. I look into the rear view mirror and watch the car behind to see
how far away it is. Not many cars can keep up with us.
Then there is passing. The idea is
to get as close as you can to the car in front and swerve suddenly
into another lane, narrowly failing to hook the bumper of the car
while holding your breath. That should be a familiar move to any back
Playing the radio is another good
way to keep a back seat driver annoyed. Preferably the radio should be
a rock station so that the steering wheel can be used as a bongo drum.
After all, if you have to be in the car for 30 or 45 minutes while
commuting, you might as well enjoy it. If the radio is loud enough, it
will cover up screams of terror.
I am absolutely certain that the
only thing that has saved my life so far is holding onto the car door
as tight as I can. If they ever find me in the wreckage of a terrible
accident, Iím sure they will say if she had only been holding on to
the car door tighter, this wouldnít have happened.
Iíve tried to keep my eyes shut as
a way of blocking it all out, but somehow that just doesnít work. As
soon as I feel sharp braking, my eyes fly open. I guess if I am going
to die I want to see it happen. Back seat drivers donít like
Another challenge for the back seat
driver is waiting until the last minute to get over to the exit lane.
Moving over into tight spots between speeding cars in time to get off
is really harrowing. I have practically passed out many times. We
probably save a whole 2 or 3 minutes by not getting over ahead of
Another day, another commute -- it
couldnít possibly be as bad as it seems. I havenít died yet, so I
have to think my back seat driving must be better than I think it is.