Monday, 22 September 2008

The Road Rules

I care about the environment, I really do but the one area in which my carbon stiletto print is yet to reduced is driving. Maybe it’s a result of my crush on Jeremy Clarkson, but I will drive anywhere, even to the corner shop. Of late I have come to understand that due to the fact there are no defined rules on how a passenger should behave in a car people do what the heck they like. Not good.

So to avoid domestic drama occurring in my vehicle I have decided to come up with the rules and regulations of car journeys (well journeys in my car) but do feel free to jack them for your own personal use, as I do believe it will make the world a better place.

Some of you may find my requests unreasonable but I’m not one of those drivers that will ask for petrol money. I think this is an awfully tacky manoeuvre, as you would have made the journey irrespective of me being in the vehicle and if you ask for petrol money based on the premise that as a favour you went out of your way to pick me up/drop me home accepting some form of monetary reimbursement suggests you didn’t do it out of the bottom of your heart and haven’t realised part of giving is sacrifice. I haven’t got time for pseudo-kindness, I’d much rather you’re upfront and say ‘truth is I’m kind of broke and I’m offering lifts to friends as a guise to get more money’.

Anyway, let me stop!

Driving Rules for the Passenger

Before the Journey

1) Be On Time

I have received wedding invitations which state ‘Reception follows starting at 5 pm GMT not BPT’. For those of you who aren’t aware BPT is an acronym for Black People Time. The story is that apparently black people are late with such frequency they work on their own ethnic clock. I have come to discover this is a crock of bull. Poor time keeping is indicative that a person lacks discipline. Indiscipline is not unique to black people, but a disease of the lazy. If you happen to be a poor timekeeper, do not ever let it manifest itself when I am coming to pick you up. If I have been so kind enough to agree to give you a ride and we have designated a time and location the onus is upon you to be on time.

If you’re late, you have absolutely no right to be offended if you find that if I have driven off if I have to wait for you for more than 7 minutes.

During the Journey

2) Keep it to yourself

For some reason whenever I’m driving a man they believe it is part of their birthright to make snide comments about my driving. Do not patronise me and decide to give me a driving tutorial. I am the driver, you are the passenger, respect the hierarchy. I don’t care if you have a PhD in driving safety or if your great great great grandfather invented windscreen wipers, please do not tell me how to drive.

Now my car is generally clean, but I have been in many dirty cars and despite my hatred of bacteria I hold my tongue because I’m grateful someone is giving me a lift. As a general rule, avoiding commenting (first) on how dirty a persons car is. On the other hand if the driver makes a depreciating comment about the state of their car, don’t be terribly British and say ‘Oh it’s not that bad’, agree with enthusiasm and tactfully emphasise the fact that bacteria can kill.

3) The Music Policy

I love the Dixie Chicks but for some strange reason people don’t want to listen to them on the way to a party. But I don’t care what anyone else wants to listen to. My car is my domain. My very own totalitarian state. I am the despot my passengers are the oppressed citizens. What I say goes, there is no democracy, negotiation is a foreign concept and compromise isn’t even in our vocabulary.

You cede all musical rights when you enter my car.

You have no choice in what we listen to, when we listen to it, the volume level or even if you want to hear a track again.

If I want to drive in silence, silence will be our music.

Don’t bring your iPod to connect to my stereo (your itunes library does not interest me in the slightest).

And no you cannot borrow that CD, because I know I won’t get it back.

If you do not like it, to paraphrase the great Beyonce Knowles ‘better catch a cab or get on a bus’.

4) The Menu

You may eat in my car (come on I’m not cruel!). But there are two conditions.

1) You do not eat food with a putrid smell
I am of African descent and so I am well aware that food that tastes absolutely amazing may not have a corresponding smell. However I do not want my car to smell like stockfish or some ingredient that has to be sourced and can only bought in 3 places in London. Eat food that will not leave a smell for more than 7 minutes (7 is the magic number today). Even better, wait till you get home and eat at the table.

b) You do not litter
If you insist on eating, do not leave packaging or the remnants of the dish in my car. It’s not biodegradable; someone will have to clean after you. And no it wont be me since I’ve never cleaned my car. However your litter and the litter of others will have an accumulative effect and out of shame I will have to tip the men that do clean it more than I otherwise would.

5) In Case of Emergency

Sometimes accidents happen so just in case I have my car emergency kit.

Within my emergency kit is -
Body lotion
Hair Moisturiser
A dress
My War Paint (eye pencil, mascara, lipgloss and blush)
Black tights
Pair of Stilettos
A Pair of Converses
A Hairbrush
A Gideon Bible
Washing Powder
Two rings
A jacket
The Communist Manifesto (I’m joking!)

I have no issue with lending items in my emergency kit but you must return it within 7 days. If you remove an item from my emergency kit without permission and I happen to need it then discover that you took it; I will not hesitate in reporting you to the Metropolitan Police for theft.

By the way isn’t it hilarious, that doing this paragraph has made me realise that
a) I have no idea if I have a spare tyre
b) If I do have one I would have no idea how to fix it

6) Don’t Judge Me

Driving has the ability to evoke emotions and reactions out of you that you didn’t know you had. Now I don’t condone foul language, rude gestures or random acts of violence but if these occur whilst driving, I understand.

If you live in my city, where the roads are as narrow as Sarah Palins mind, you will understand that driving can often be often be a frustrating experience. Giving way more than accelerating, the congestion charge and trying to avoid Satan Agents (Traffic Wardens) often means drivers say and do things that if their employers witnessed they would be handed their P45.

Do not judge me if I act in a manner that doesn’t match your expectations, I do not need you to be the morality police. Don’t gasp, roll your eyes, shake your head or even worse preach. Just stare ahead or even better join in.

After the Journey

7) Say Thank-You

For every ingrate that leaves my car without saying thank-you, I vow they will not return (yes darling, that’s why you haven’t been in my car since). It is the height of rudeness and disrespect to not say thank you to ANYONE that does you any type of service. Waiters, retail associates, lollipop ladies, the cleaners in the office, never take an act of service for granted, even if they are being paid to do it. It is courtesy to acknowledge a persons effort. So to you ungrateful trolls that need instruction on what to do when you leave a persons car.

Smile, say thank you and DO NOT SLAM THE DOOR.

Peace, Love and Top Gear


P.S To the environmentalists out there, don’t worry soon I’ll be rich and make the ultimate self-righteous social statement by driving a hybrid.


  1. Ama, what car do you drive?
    Because this may make one or more of your rules null and void!
    If you drive a Mini, I beg your pardon, otherwise please resubmit this rant.
    The car makes a big difference!

  2. LOL! What on earth has the car I drive got to do with the 'Road Rules'?!