Having a passenger in your car on a long journey can be rewarding. They’ll talk to you to keep you awake. They’ll point out interesting sights which you might otherwise have missed. They may even dispense the occasional sweet if you’re exceptionally lucky.
Unfortunately, that’s not the whole story. Despite their good intentions, passengers can also be extremely annoying. If you’re unlucky enough to be saddled with an aggravating copilot on a long journey, the process of getting from A to B can become a unique kind of hell.
Here is our catalogue of the most annoying passenger “types” and things they’re likely to do in your car.
1. The critic
The critic is convinced of two things: 1) that they are one of the most gifted drivers in Britain and quite possibly the entire world and 2) that your driving skills are only marginally better than those of a circus chimp. The critic sees it as a matter of civic and moral duty to take you to task on your driving style, your alertness to road conditions and your continual refusal to adopt the recommended ten and two hand positions on the steering wheel.
Receiving constant driving tuition is irritating enough but the annoyance factor compounds when you do what any reasonable human being does when scrutinised for hours. You tense up and begin to make mistakes, thus confirming the critic’s conviction that you should sell your car and rely on public transport.
2. The interventionist
The interventionist sees a long trip on the road as an opportunity to fix you. Behind the wheel, you’re a captive audience, ready and waiting to be on the receiving end of a conversation about everything you’re doing wrong with your life.
If you’re lucky, the interventionist may just want to talk about how you keep letting your house plants die. If you’re less fortunate, the interventionist may wish to dissect the state of your soul and its ever-diminishing likelihood of salvation.
Whatever the intervention, you’re in it for the long haul because you’re trapped behind the wheel and they know it. As if the humiliation of having to own plastic houseplants wasn’t enough.
3. The idealist
The idealist has a perfect image of how the world should be, and this includes how things should happen on the road. Driving with pets should be a charming adventure, full of chance meetings with friendly locals and wildlife. Travelling with the kids should be a delight, with the young ones learning important life lessons about respecting one’s elders from the back seat of the family car.
The irritating aspect is not the idealism itself, which is actually kind of sweet. The difficulty occurs when reality fails to live up to that perfect vision. When this happens, the idealist can make travel a brutal cycle of impossible expectations and bewildered disappointment.
4. The greenhorn
The greenhorn is young and inexperienced in the ways of the world. The problem with travelling with the greenhorn is that every possible side-trip, scenic spot and tourist attraction has them bouncing in their seat in expectation. While that youthful energy is fun in small doses, by gradual degrees it can easily become desperately annoying.
As you pull over to the side of the road for the fifteenth time that day so that your greenhorn companion can pose, wide-eyed and grinning in front of another unusually shaped rock, you’ll find it just that little bit harder to be nice about it. Sooner or later you’ll say something sarcastic. You’ll immediately regret it as you see a tiny shred of their youthful optimism wither just a little in the face of your jaded cynicism. If there’s one feeling worse than annoyance, it is guilty annoyance.
5. The enthusiast
The enthusiast has one unusual and antisocial hobby they’re just dying to share with you on the open road. Imagine being three hours into a six-hour road trip when your enthusiast buddy decides to introduce you to the joys of banjo electronica.
“This will be over soon,” you’ll desperately reassure yourself, as the enthusiast assaults you with track after beeping, plunking track of acoustic horror. But you’re wrong.
The worst part is, the enthusiast so deeply wants you to share their enthusiasm, but you just can’t find it within yourself, because it’s so unmanageably horrible. The theme-song to the exquisite awkwardness which follows will be a synthesised banjo rendition of Greensleeves.
6. The guru
The guru believes they possess encyclopedic knowledge of driving and how to get there. They’ll inform you of every shortcut, every obscure road rule, every snippet of interesting local trivia from the moment you set out to the moment you arrive at your destination. Along the way, you’ll also receive fascinating lectures on British driving problems, comparative driving styles and the mating habits of the badger.
The guru may just be trying to help, but at some point you’ll wish you brought ear plugs. A little knowledge is interesting. A constant barrage of information is profoundly irritating.
Having the right kind of company on a long trip is wonderful. They are our gracious copilots, blessing us with good conversations, happy diversions and life-giving snacks. Be wary, fellow driver, of the dark side. An irritating passenger can soon turn this heaven into hell. Fortunately, we will finally make it there, wherever we are going...
What irritating behaviours have you experienced from your passengers? Let us know in the comments below.
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