Does This Thing Have a Copilot?

There is nothing like writing comedy sketches to remind a person of the mishaps of life.  And considering the number of mishaps in my life, I could mine my life for many a sketch and still have plenty left over.  But a comment from my Twitter and Blogging friend, Jeffe Kennedy ( she’s the lovely writer of Love, Power & Fairytale Endings over on my blog roll) got me to thinking of just how many mishaps I’ve had whilst being in a moving vehicle.  Really, this is scary folks.

I drive a lot.  As in “mom driving a lot”, but still.  There are many trips to the grocery store and ballet and piano lessons in my little world.  Which means I put myself and my children in the danger zone (please cue up sound track from Top Gun now) on a regular basis, even if the mileage on my ’06 mom-van’s odometer might seem to belie this statement.  That being said, plus the aforementioned HIT and RUN by a bicyclist event (here), it would appear that I am correct in my assumption that being in a moving vehicle is not the wisest course of action one might take if extending one’s lifespan is paramount.

Some of my vehicular accidental brushes with death have had me in the driver’s seat (perhaps I am exaggerating the closeness of death, but still) but most have had me in the passenger seat, where I could do nothing about the upcoming change in health histories.

Take for example, my carpool experience in high school.  I often would catch a ride to school with a young woman on her way to work.  Sherry is one of the nicest folks around, but a firm believer that God was actually driving the car and she was just the copilot.  (Have I mentioned lately that I’m a control freak?  As in please pull over and let me drive!!!!) I, myself, have never really thought God has the time to be driving all of creation all about (I mean, hello, that is the sole responsibility of the harried human mother, right?) so I was perplexed by Sherry’s commitment to her copilot role.  I figured I had better be the copilot’s copilot and ensure I made it to first period chemistry with limited scratches.

So imagine just how well I was able to concentrate on chemistry after this little vignette.

“So I was serving this man a cup of coffee and he –”  (gesticulating with both hands what serving a cup of coffee to a man might look like)

“Ah Sherry, there’s a deer.” (grabbing hold of sissy-handle and bracing feet for impact)

“Just reached over –” (still gesticulating coffee pouring action with one hand whilst holding cup in other)

“Sherry, there’s a DEER!” “Oh my God, there’s a deer!”  “Oh my God, you just hit the deer!” (squeezing eyes shut in effort to erase image of splatting deer flesh and such things)

“And totally grabbed my b—”  “Oh no, did I just hit a deer?” (smooths hair in rearview mirror and adjusting seat belt, places left hand on steering wheel as an after-thought)

Let’s just say, things didn’t turn out so well for that deer and I was an emotional mess.  After all, it was my eyes the poor stricken thing looked into during that split second before Sherry, acting as God’s copilot, creamed it.

I soon began driving myself self to school and thought I had firmly put my deer-hitting experiences behind me.

And then, years later, there was the trip west through Gillette, Why-o-why-oming.  One summer I travelled with my father-in-law and my then 18-month-old son from Minnesota to Oregon to deliver a mini-van to my sister-in-law.  I was up for a road trip and the chance to see my family.  So, it seemed like a bang-up idea.  Too bad there was a bit too much bang-up involved.

It went like this:

Me, phoning husband one night at about dusk, to let him know how things were going:  “Hi hon.  Yeah, things are going great.  We’re making great time and we think we’ll just drive for a little bit, oh my God there’s a deer.”

“Oh my God we hit a deer.  I have to go.” (click)

(In defense of my father-in-law, he is a very good driver.  There really wasn’t much he could do to avoid the poor deer.  Because the deer in Wyoming are drawn to the freeway like moths to a flame, but even more so.  Don’t believe me?  Well then go for a drive, hit Wyoming at about dusk and see for yourself.  Sheesh.)

Again, I was in the passenger seat.  Again, it was my eyes that were gazed into just as the Grim Reaper’s scythe swooped down.  Again, it was my window that caught the brunt of all things deer-y.  Again, I was reduced to taking ownership of a deity.  (Such a goofy thing to say, really.  Which makes me wonder what agnostics and atheists say as such times?  Actually, I may have an inkling that their exclamations may involve bodily excretions, but in my experience, if you say such things, it’s like an incantation and shit is going to happen.  Just saying.)

So, you might see why I’m not such a big fan of being the copilot.  I like to be in charge.  I like to control the radio station, the heating controls, the position of the rear-view mirror.  I also would prefer to never drive through sections of the world with those “caution: deer” signs.

As the biggest control-freak in the family, I figure I may not be the best candidate to teach my kiddos how to drive.  Not unless I can install a steering wheel and braking system on the passenger side for better copiloting techniques.