A Driving Tribute

Ron Nagasawa
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Wednesday - April 28, 2010
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My father-in-law recently passed away from complications of a stroke. He was a longtime and well-loved subject of What’s Next, and this column, published originally on April 2, 1997, is reprinted as a tribute to him.

I don’t mean to alarm you, but I think there’s a disease going around that has plagued at least three of the women who are closest to me. My wife, my mother and my mother-in-law have contracted back-seat driver syndrome.

Seems whenever I’m driving and my wife is in the passenger seat, in her mind, I’ve lost the ability to safely control the car. I don’t think I’m a bad driver - I’ve taken the same driving course that the police do, and when I was an EMT I had a license to drive an ambulance.


Still, I could be going 15 mph, crawling over speed bumps, and my wife will tell me to watch out for a parked car that’s 50 feet away.

My mother has a different strain of the disease. While she doesn’t tell me how to drive, any route that I’m taking to a destination seems to be the wrong one. She always knows a quicker, better route to take but never tells me until after I’m halfway to where we’re going.

Now the reason I know this is a disease is because of my mother-in-law. I’ve witnessed several occasions where she’s instructed my father-in-law on how to maneuver his van, at what speed and in which lane.

The thing is, she doesn’t have a license to drive. Not too long ago, we had a family outing where we all piled into my father-in-law’s van. The passenger list included his wife, my wife and my mother. The disease reached epidemic proportions and frankly, I thought the van was going to explode.

At the next stoplight, my father-in-law took both his hands off the steering wheel, lifted them into the air, turned to the diseased women and calmly stated, “OK, you drive.”

I’m currently writing a letter to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Ron’s WEBSITE of the week www.facebook.com/HawaiiCoveringKids

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