Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Yes, it’s immature.

And while it falls into the same category as other immature habits that formed during my childhood years (i.e. being trained to eat pizza as fast as I could to ensure my share, guarding my plate from scavengers and licking the insides of oreos and closing them for an unexpected victim), it stands high above the others as one of the most problematic habits in my entire life.

I can’t stop calling Shotgun! when approaching a car.

First, let’s identify why “calling Shotgun!” and successfully getting Shotgun (the passenger seat in a car that will be transporting more than two individuals) is such a great thing. Let’s face it — no one likes to sit in the back seat of a car. And if you’re traveling to a lunch with five of your friends or going to New York or some concert and you’re packing a car to the brim — you don’t want the back seat, the hump in the back seat, and you definitely don’t want to be that lowly person who gets stuck having to contort their body to fit in the hatchback section of the car.

You want Shotgun!

The rules of engagement are varied depending on where you're from. But the rules I follow stem from my early high school years, and while a bit insane, can be summarized in this short (and legitimate) list:
-You may not call Shotgun! until you can see the car.
-If you call Shotgun! before seeing the car, you cannot call Shotgun! for three trips that occur following the instance in which you illegally called Shotgun!
-In the event you illegally call Shotgun! and others exclaim that you couldn’t have possibly seen the car from where you were standing, but you insist that you have really good eyesight but they don’t believe you — all parties must stop at the point where you said you could see the vehicle and a neutral third-party ophthalmologist must give you an eye-test, determine you ability to see and how far you can see, and then all parties can agree upon whether or not you can call Shotgun! in the next three trips.
-Assuming you do call Shotgun! and the other parties challenge your call, and the ophthalmologist comes in, and you get an eye test, and you indeed could have seen far enough to legally call Shotgun!, but obviously since the ophthalmologist appointment came after the contested call (which meant that at the time you called it you were disallowed shotgun due to the questioning of legality), then you will be provided with a freebie of Shotgun! in an event of your choosing.
-If someone trips you on the way to the car or “flat-foots” you (stepping on the back of your shoe while you’re walking) after you’ve already called and acquired shotgun — you get an extra shot gun for next time. If you do any of the previously aforementioned things to another passenger while you have already been awarded the shotgun, then you must give up your shotgun-status to the person you did the act to.
-Putting your dirty shoes up on the dashboard in the car, while enjoying the shotgun-status, is grounds for the driver to pull over, revoke your shotgun-status and give it to the person he/she likes better.

As you can see, such rules work wonderfully for people who have too much time on their hands and also don’t have professional relationships to foster — my current lifestyle, not being able to stop calling Shotgun! is not problem in my personal, professional and academic life.

Sure, it’s a bit childish, but it’s the kind of thing where potentially…other people might respect the fact that you called it and got it. I suspect there are thousands of adults out there, who every time they approach a car with more than two passengers think to themselves about calling shotgun but don’t — for fear of looking silly. For fear of ruining a relationship. But deep down, I think the compulsion lies dormant in “civilized businesspeople” and they’re dying to let it back out.
Or maybe that’s just how I justify feeling better about the looks I get from others or the snarls I get from hump-residing back-seat dwellers. Or maybe the reactions I get from people (mostly which include reactions like “you’re serious?” or “that is so immature”) are simply their way of lashing out against the guy who got shotgun, when they really wished it had been them.
Look. My record speaks for itself. In an average 100 car trips, including more than 2 passengers, I have achieved legendary status as a shotgunner with an approximate 74 success call-outs. That means that in almost 75% of all shotgun attempts, I have been successful.
Immature? Maybe. The coolest guy ever? Yeah.
So I can’t stop calling shotgun.
Big deal.

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