My son gave me a ride to work the other day. It was on his way to school, since I wasn't going to my school, heading downtown for an all-day meeting. It was somewhere during this transaction that I began to piece together how natural this felt. Well, not completely natural, since I am totally committed and focused on the rut I make with my bicycle one hundred and eighty plus times a year to that same destination, but as exceptions went this felt pretty normal. This is probably weighted in this direction because I don't own a car. More to the point, I own a car, but I don't drive it. I spend a lot of time riding shotgun, with my wife driving. Or my son. I am not what you would call a "designated driver," except when circumstances arise that put me in that driver's seat.
This wasn't always the case. When I was my son's age, I drove everywhere. All the time. I gave rides to all manner of friends and family. But the thought that keeps popping up in my mind is this: I have no memory of driving my father anywhere. By contrast, I have oodles and bags full of memories of my father driving me here and there. He dropped me off. He picked me up. He took me places I need to be, and maybe a few that I didn't . My father liked to drive. He was behind the wheel for the absurd bulk of time our family was out on the road. One of the enduring images I have of my father is that of the lower half of his face reflected to me in the rear-view mirror in the back seat. It was the order of things. That is probably why I now feel comfortable handing over the chore of driving to anyone who volunteers.
That would be my son. I have a hazy memory of wanting to be the guy behind the wheel. It was freedom. It was power. It was being a teenager. What I don't remember is giving my father a ride. On the other hand, I do recall a great many times when I drove my mother here and there. Sometimes I drove her crazy, but that's another matter. Most of these trips involved me dropping off my car and taking hers. That was the way we went where we were going after my father was out of the picture. My mother was happy to let someone else do the chore. When I go back to Colorado to visit, I expect to be driving. When I go out the front door of my house here in California, I don't have that expectation.
I could offer to drive my son's car, but that would mean having to get out and go around to switch back after he dropped me off. I don't need that kind of control. Most of the time, he lets me sit up front.