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Map Reading, Seat Position And Other Driving Debates

They say that one of the things that causes the most car-related debate between couples is navigation and map reading. This may have been changed by GPS systems and sat-nav. Possibly, this is one reason why navigation systems tend to come as standard features on an awful lot of new cars coming out these days – it saves marital conflict over map reading.

However, this isn’t the case in our household. And this is not because our Ford has a red-hot navigation system. It doesn’t (and I’m pretty good at reading maps).  What it doesn’t have is memory seats, and the different settings (forward & back, lumbar support and seat angle) are manually adjustable. So the thing that causes the debate is seat position.

The arguments caused by a lack of memory seats are less heated than the ones that stereotypically crop up about map reading. They are more in the nature of low-grade grumblings.

The typical argument about map reading goes something like this.

“You’re going the wrong way, dear,” she says

“No I’m not,” he says.

“You were supposed to turn right at that intersection that you drove past a minute ago.”

“Why the hell didn’t you say so?” He keeps driving in the same direction.

“I did say so!  I told you to turn right at Queen Street ages ago.”

“I didn’t know that was Queen Street? How was I supposed to know that was Queen Street?  Do you really expect me to read every single little road sign?”

“Yes, I do. I would have been able to read it if you hadn’t been driving so fast.”

“I am not driving fast. Why didn’t you tell me that Queen Street was coming up?  You’ve got the map.”

“I’m sure I said to take the next right. There haven’t been any other roads to the right and I thought you had enough common sense to read the road signs.”

“I’m relying on you to tell you which way to turn and when to turn.  Why can’t you do a simple thing like that?”

“I did!  And you’re still going the wrong way!  Why won’t you listen? I had the map here and told you.”  She holds up the map and points to the intersection in question.

“You’re holding the bloody map upside down again! I don’t know why you do that – it drives me nuts and how you can read the thing properly like that, I don’t know.”

And so on and so on, ad nauseam.


Seat position grumbles are less dramatic and usually only take place once in the journey unless one of us is in a very bad mood.

His grumble: “Who’s been fiddling around with the seat position? What have you done with it this time?”

“I moved the seat forward. You know I’ve got short legs and can’t reach the pedals if I don’t.”

“I can’t get behind the wheel properly.  Is that all you changed?”

“I put the seat back up, of course. It’s better for your back if you sit upright.”

“Well, it can’t be good for you, squished up behind the steering column like that. What if there’s an accident?”

“Um, isn’t that why they invented airbags?”

“Hmm.” He adjusts the seat tilt. “Are you sure that that’s all you changed?  I’m sure it feels different from the way I left it.”

“I didn’t touch the lumbar support.  I never touch the lumbar support.”

“Well, it feels funny, anyway.” More fiddling and fine-tuning. “Can you put your seat back? I can’t see out the side with your head in the way.”

The response from me is muttering along the lines of “Well, if you didn’t have your seat back so far, I wouldn’t be in your line of sight.” The journey then gets underway and the grumbling stops.

My grumble when I get into the driver’s seat is the reverse. “You must have arms like a ruddy gorilla.  How do you manage to reach the steering wheel properly from way back there?”

“I like to sit back and relax when I drive.  You look so uptight and tense with your nose just about over the steering wheel like Mr Magoo.”

“It’s a wonder you don’t fall asleep with the seat as far back as you have it.  And then you’ve got the cheek to grumble at the kids for kneeing you in the back. You’ve just about got your head rest up their noses.  I’m sure it’s bad for your back, sprawling like that.”

There are other great driving debates as well, though not all of them happen in my family.  Classics include:

  • Will you stop going around the corners so fast – you’ve got a steering wheel to hold onto.
  • Keep your eyes on the road rather than fooling around with the balance of the audio system.
  • Will you kids stop fooling with the electric windows?
  • Stop kicking the back of my seat.
  • Get your knees out of the back of my seat.
  • Get that dog off the leather seats or he’ll ruin them.
  • Turn that music down – it’s so loud you can’t hold a conversation.
  • Are we there yet?

Any I’ve missed?


  1. Jim says:

    This is quite similar to what happens in our family – I am quite tall, while my wife is short, but in our case her map reading ability is much better. Just don’t expect her to identify compass points – North, South, East and West are simply words, and NOT directions!

    June 27th, 2013 at 4:18 pm