If you think backseat driving is annoying, you should try backseat navigating.
We were with a friend, driving through unfamiliar streets and anticipating a delicious Thai dinner. As the one with the shortest legs, I was in the back seat. I usually prefer that position, as both our friend and my husband enjoy keeping up a lively conversation and that's much more convenient if they're both in the front. In the back seat, I can read, or think, or just enjoy the ride, which is generally my preference.
But it doesn't work for navigating.
We had just entered a tricky part of the route, where many turns happened in a very short period of time. I tried to interrupt the above-mentioned lively conversation to give directions. Not only were they not listening to my directions, I became convinced they weren't even hearing me, since every time I jumped into a break in the flow of words, our friend would talk right over me.
Finally, in utter frustration, I raised my voice and cried, "CAN YOU ALL PLEASE STOP TALKING FOR A FEW MINUTES AND LISTEN TO MY DIRECTIONS?"
My husband slammed on the brakes and brought us to a screeching halt.
No harm was done: we were in a residential area and it was safe to stop. But chaos reigned and some not-so-happy words were exchanged for a few seconds.
It wasn't until we were at the restaurant waiting for our meal that some light was shed on what had happened there. Our friend was not being rude when he talked over me: he had left his hearing aid at home, and he truly did not know I was talking.
And it wasn't till we were home (after a delicious lunch) that I figured out why my husband had slammed on the brakes. I had thought he was angry. But picture the situation: You're driving on unfamiliar roads, you are trying to pay attention to someone with a loud voice who is talking in your right ear, and you aren't quite hearing what the softer voice is saying from behind you—until that voice suddenly becomes a shout: "CAN YOU ALL PLEASE STOP TALKING FOR A FEW MINUTES AND LISTEN TO MY DIRECTIONS?"
What does your brain hear?
It hears the one word, "STOP!"
In retrospect, it was funny—it just took us a while to realize that.
What did I learn?
- Just because someone raises her voice, it doesn't necessarily mean she's angry (though she might be a little bit)—maybe she's just trying to be heard.
- Just because someone doesn't respond to you, it doesn't necessarily mean he's rudely ignoring you—maybe he's hard of hearing.
- Just because someone does something that appears to be an outburst of temper, it doesn't necessarily mean he's reacting in anger (though he might be a little bit)—maybe he thinks he's responding to an emergency situation.
And one more thing: Don't try to navigate from the back seat.