I’ll give you a ride — if you’re not too fastidious
Are you like me? I really get antsy when I know I have to drive other people in my car, especially when I don’t prepare for them. The interior of my car is usually an old gumball away from being declared a hazardous-materials zone.
Try as I might, I just can’t keep the thing clean. But, really, aren’t you a little suspicious of people who manage to keep their car interiors spotless? Who puts out that much effort?
Sometimes I get in the cars — some of them very expensive — of my friends, and I’ll admit to taking guilty pleasure in that the interiors are as bad or worse than mine. There are old baby bottles, crumpled papers strewn about, mismatched shoes, one slipper, food wrappers and all the other stuff that says the car is a poorly kept second home.
It doesn’t bother me that I notice jelly stains or a little piece of a hot dog bun on the console in a friend’s car. In fact, I love it.
Now, back to me and my vehicle.
My car is like a second office. My passenger seat is like an overstuffed open desk drawer. It has pens, notepads, paper clips, old fast-food receipts, bits of french fries, condiment strips, a comb and brush, my favorite CDs and sometimes, a half-finished bottle of water.
I guess that’s one of the reasons why my wife will say with trepidation in her voice, “We’re…uh, taking your car?” ,
The back seat is usually a little better, because I only place big items back there, such as sport coats, briefcases, jackets and a Bible. Yes, a Bible. Who can criticize anyone who has a Bible in the car?
Admittedly, it could be a little off-putting for people to open a door and witness my car. Sometimes, I say to my unplanned-for passengers: “If something moves, step on it.” They laugh. They actually think I’m joking.
When I know in advance or don’t forget that I am having passengers, I pile the stuff up and throw it into the trunk, which sometimes resembles a messy Goodwill store.
Earlier this week, I forgot I had to drive a couple of co-workers to lunch. As we walked toward my car, I was tempted to ask them to wait a few minutes to give me time to clean my car, but we were already late departing.
You know immediately that there is a problem when no one will rest their elbows anywhere or they make it a point to keep their hands in their laps, seemingly afraid to put them anywhere on the upholstery.
Their reluctance didn’t bother me. I had witnessed it before with other passengers. But, in reality, it wasn’t too bad. The carpet was a little interesting-looking. But what the heck, they had on shoes.
Just last week, my daughter was home on a visit and desperately seeking transportation. She asked both my wife and nephew if she could use their vehicles. After they said their cars would be in use, there was a long pause. She didn’t ask for mine.
I wonder why.
Ed Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.