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Meet the Columnist

Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Back Seat Driver...

Back Seat Driver

Itís 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 driving.

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 mercilessly.

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 powerless.

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 seat driver.

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 surprises.

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 time.

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.

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss

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