To all the spouses, partners, and better halves who could very well drive but take on the important role of passenger to make sure everyone arrives safely at their destination: I see you!
One of the most under-appreciated jobs in midlife is the one of being a passenger in a car. When you could be driving but you don’t, because your significant other wants to drive. So you let them, even though you are perfectly capable of driving, and you are damned to fulfill the thankless job of being the passenger. But you don’t complain because that job is equal in importance to driving, even more so if we’re being honest. The driver is usually not aware of this, but the passenger is actually the person who prevents one accident after the other by holding their breath, inhaling sharply, making little surprised noises, hanging onto the holy sh*t handle for dear life or digging their fingernails into the seats. Other techniques include heavy sighs, passive-aggressive suggestions, and exasperated gasps – those are my husband’s favourite. My favourite is the elevated heart rate, because I feel like I’ve worked out after just a short drive in town. Driving to Kelowna to visit our oldest son is like a marathon, I didn’t even know I’m fit enough to handle one.
Once the car is off the road, the work of the passenger does not stop. It also includes – but is not limited to – selecting parking spots and giving detailed instructions how to park, knowing where to get the best deal on gas and directing the driver to that gas station, testing the driver’s reaction times by giving last second directions, and pointing out whether it might be time to get a vision or hearing test at the ICBC licensing office.
If this seems to you like it might be even more exhausting to be the passenger than the driver, that’s because it is. I should also add that my husband is an excellent driver and has always gotten us safely where we need to go. In our marriage, I selflessly take on the job of passenger and while it’s really my efforts that get us safely to our destination, I don’t mind giving my husband all the credit.