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I Feel I Have Earned The Right To Not Have To Call 'Shotgun'

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I Feel I Have Earned The Right To Not Have To Call 'Shotgun'

Jeff? Did I just hear what I think I did? Is it possible that you just said "shotgun"? That's pretty fucked up, Jeff. Because I think it's pretty obvious that, after all these years, I've earned the right to not to have to say "shotgun" when we get into the car.

Okay, everyone shut up. Let's discuss this.

Each of us has a role in Rick's car. Rick is the driver. What he says goes. However, as he is occupied with the top duty—getting us safely to our destination—he leaves me to handle certain details, such as the radio station and garbage control. I am Rick's second man, his cardinal advisor, if you will. I can't even guess the number of times I have alerted him to the presence of bacon on the side.

Yes, ha ha. You find that funny? You three sit back there elbowing each other and quoting Aqua Teen Hunger Force. You don't even realize that there's a whole complex set of tasks being completed up front. Take, for example, the drive-thru. Justin, what do you think goes into getting food from the drive-thru? No one help him! I want to hear his answer.

"Ordering"? Uh-huh. Sure. Ordering. Good. Anything else? "Paying." Very good. Anything else? No? You sure? Try collecting money from each person and making change, taking the soda tray and bags of food from Rick, and distributing the correct food items, as well as napkins and condiments, to each occupant of the car. Ordering and paying. Pfft.

No, I am not freaking out, "dude." I am illustrating a point, and if you want to be a dick, I will happily meet you at your level.

Fine, the gloves are off.

Justin, the one time we went through a drive-thru with you in shotgun, you dumped a goddamn Big Gulp's worth of Sprite in Rick's lap. When you thought no one was watching, you stole one of Will's chicken fingers. You thought you'd gotten away with it, didn't you? Four years riding the wing, and I have not so much as dropped an unopened ketchup packet. I have certainly never abused my privileges and snagged a fry—much less an entire finger. Being klutzy is one thing. Being a thief is something else altogether.

That funny, Will, you pussy? You heard me. You are a pussy with the radio dial. This is you: "Guys, what's a good station?" It takes a man to decide what his friends are going to listen to—a man of action, and you have shown, several times, that you're not a man of action. No pussy will ride wing for Rick as long as I'm saving for my brother's Honda.

Jeff, you seem to be enjoying this. Laugh not too loud, my friend, lest you find they jokest at your expense. I grant that you are a competent operator of the radio dial and quite adept at passing food. I noted some flaws in your technique, but nothing several months of sidecar wouldn't fix. What impresses me most, Jeff, is your character: You are honest and considerate. You are strong and fair. Jeff, you have the makings of a great wingman. Unfortunately, you are not ready at present, as your sense of direction sucks.

Remember that trip to your aunt's beach house? You said you knew the way, so I entrusted you with the role of navigator for a day. Well, thank God I had the foresight to bring along Mapquest directions, or we never would've made it to your aunt's at all.

Oh, come on, Jeff. Who was calling out specific turns to Rick, as well as the approximate distance before the next turn, and who was muttering, "Oh, yeah, I forgot that"? And you want to ride shotgun? For Rick? Maybe if you sit down with every map from the glove compartment and study for a few weeks. Then, perhaps someday, you'll qualify for the sweet corner. But really, what you guys should do is just enjoy the freedom from responsibility you now have in the rear. You especially, Will. As the hump-rider, you don't even have to operate a window.

Okay, if you don't want to appreciate riding rear, fine. But you need to stop taking my function as a considerate front-seat passenger for granted. I don't know how many times I've adjusted the heat for you guys. I always check to see if the person behind me has enough legroom. I never toss a cigarette from my window without looking to see that the back windows are closed. And when Jeff broke up with his girlfriend, I gave him shotgun when we went over to her place to pick up his CDs.

I confess that I am not without sin. I have been known to be a bit brusque with my orders to defrost the rear window. On occasion, I have toyed with the child-safety locks. This I grant. But you want to get into the realm of dark truth? Justin, you once flipped on the hazard lights while Rick was driving. Ha ha, very funny. Until someone dies. And Jesus, Will, when you get a car of your own, challenge as many people to drag race as you want. Until then, work on your fear of the radio dial.

Look, guys, I ride shotgun because I'm the right man for the job. When I believe one of you is ready for the responsibility, I'll mention it to Rick. But for now, I'll continue riding up front, no matter who "called" it, and I'll thank you not to drive your knees into my back.

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