The Perfect Copilot

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It’s been over a week since I dropped my mother off at her home in northern Virginia. Initially, I assumed that two weeks on the road with her would feel like…well…two weeks. But in all honesty, the time flew by. My friends found it incredible that we had spent nearly every day together and had managed to walk away from the journey virtually unscathed (figuratively, I suppose, for she did suffer a few cuts and bruises along the way…sorry Ma).

I, too, was rather surprised at the relative ease of bringing my mother along with me everywhere I went. Sure, we had our moments, as any mother-daughter-practically-sister duo can tell you. But I must say that my mother is probably one of the few people in this world who would not only want to spend fourteen consecutive days with me but who would also still love me at the end of it.

Putting up with me is no easy task. I’m well aware of that. I can be cracking jokes left and right one minute and then frustrated to the brink of tears the next. I’m all over the place. You need only to take a quick peak at the interior of the car to know it’s true. But I’m also pretty easy to please, pretty laidback. Should I have someone riding shotgun, however, there are definitely a few things that really grind my gears.

I started to notice some of my, what you might call, “pet peeves” after having a few friends spend varying amounts of time with me in the Jeep’s passenger seat. Although this list is by no means directed at any one of those dear friends nor has every one of the following worst-case-scenario-type situations necessarily happened, I’ve decided to lay it out there for any future passenger-seat passengers of mine. If out there, somewhere in this great big world there’s such a thing as the “perfect copilot,” s/he would be…

1. organized.

I struggle enough with being organized on my own. If you’re just as disorganized as I am, we’re going to have one helluva time finding anything and my patience is likely to wane with every sock of yours I find and every one of mine I lose…or just can’t find.

2. minimalist.

Along a similar train of thought, if you can’t fit everything you need for however long you’re accompanying me into one bag, you might want to reconsider what you “need.” Remember, my life is in that car. Yours doesn’t need to be too.

3. not easily embarrassed.

Look, I like to sing and/or dance while I drive. That’s not going to change, and I’m not going to “tone it down” because I suck. So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Er. Me. And if you happen to be a better singer and/or dancer than me, which is likely the case, just pretend you suck so I can feel better about myself. 

4. attentive.

If you’re going to help me navigate, stick with it. I can get anywhere by myself just fine, but if you volunteer to help, don’t screw me over by being a space cadet. Do you know how hard it is to do a 3-point turnaround with a trailer on a Forest Service road? It’s not hard. It’s damn near impossible. 

5. punctual.

Like organization, timeliness is something I struggle with myself. If, on some rare occasion, I just-so-happen to be on time for something but I have to wait on you to brush your teeth or find your phone, well, your chances of being re-invited on another adventure tick away with every minute I’m tapping my foot.

6. flexible.

Yes, I know I said we would sleep in tomorrow, but there’s this really cool overlook an hour away where I would really like to shoot a time lapse of the sunrise. Don’t worry. I’ll set the alarm. 4am okay? Good. 

7. awake.

Or at least make an effort to be for the first 30 minutes. Effort is noted. Grabbing a pillow straight after buckling up is also noted.

8. helpful.

Or, again, at least offer to help. I’ve grown so used to setting up the Go by myself that I often go into autopilot mode right off the bat. After a few times of watching me set up and take down though, you should be able to slide in and help by assembling tent poles, inflating mattresses, etc. Don’t just stand there on Facecrack updating your status while I’m sweating my ass off setting up your bed.

9. competent.

In cooking abilities, particularly. Now, I’m not a picky eater. Really. So long as you don’t burn it and there’s no meat involved (yes, that includes seafood) I’ll eat just about anything. I don’t even care if your signature dish is EasyMac. Unless you’re my mother, don’t expect me to wait on you hand and foot.

10. thick-skinned.

Lastly, and I know some of you out there are reading this thinking, “hot damn, I’ll never ride with her,” but in all seriousness, I’m not that hard to travel with. If I do ask something of you, or make some correction, don’t take it personally.


Of course, all of that being said, a look back on my list tells me I’m not even quite up to the task of being the perfect copilot, but it’s a nice thought.

Now you tell me! When you’re in the car with someone, what makes you tick?

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