2013.04.24 World's Neediest Driver makes a return visit

When I arrived at the Observer office very late Monday night after attending a very long Finance and Legal Committee meeting on the 2013-2014 budget, David immediately said to me, “You’re running an old column this week.” 

He knew that I didn’t even have an inkling of an idea what I’d be writing about this week and that getting started near midnight meant I’d be contributing to missing our printing deadline. 

So, here’s another repeated column...from early March, four years ago. I hope your memory is as bad as mine, and, except for the part about Maddie being a sophomore in college (she’s now 24), this seems as fresh as ever.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I am the World’s Neediest Driver. 

And after Googling that expression, it appears that I may be able to lay claim to this designation: the World’s Only Needy Driver.

It’s the reason Maddie didn’t want me to drive to Ann Arbor on Sunday, I think. Except she didn’t remember how needy I am until we got started.

Before returning her to Ann Arbor, she and I went back and forth on who should drive. We settled on me—so she could text and do some homework on the trip back to school and I could get in driving mode since I would be driving back home alone.

But as soon as she pressed the button to heat her seat and I recalled that it’s the passenger seat, not the driver’s that is heated, I regretted my offer.

And, as soon as I asked her to reach in the back seat for the gloves in my coat pockets (“You put one in each pocket?” she asked, slightly incredulous.) and when I next asked for my lip balm, located in my front right pocket, she wished she were driving.

“I’m not going to get anything done,” she said. “I should have driven.” 

“Here,” I said, ignoring her comment and handing her my sunglasses. “Put these under your armpit to warm them up.” 

And she started to until I laughed and said, “I didn’t really mean armpit...just inside your coat will do.” 

I store my sunglasses in the car, but I hate wearing cold sunglasses. They fog up and I have to keep taking them off.

And then it was a request to move the tissue box which, on Saturday, had slid on top of the accelerator pedal at a stop sign, inhibiting David from being able to press it. That was a scary little episode that made me glad I was sitting in the heated seat.

I probably asked for lip balm again before Maddie strategically laid the pocket of my coat within hand’s reach.

Twice I had her take notes for me—creating a “to do” list I am only now remembering to act on.

Is there a trophy for the world’s neediest driver? I could collect that hands down. But, I’m a pretty strong candidate for the world’s neediest shotgun rider, too.

On family trips, no matter who else is driving, I’m the designated front seat passenger. It used to be that I would feel sick when I rode in the back seat. I think I’m getting over that now—as long as I look straight ahead and don’t try to read, I’m OK. 

Too bad for my kids that my stomach is only now coming around—they were constantly fetching stuff for me, usually food from the cooler in the wayback, Maddie said. Paper towels, tissues, water—I was always in need of something—which seems kind of crazy since I always had (and have) so much stuff around me.

But when I’m driving alone, I get all my ducks in a row before setting out. I make sure everything I need is within reach. I hate fiddling, trying to find stuff when I’m driving. 

So, on the way home, I lined up my little bag of chocolate covered ginger and my chocolate pecan cookie and put my slice of bete noir cake nearby. I didn’t expect to eat the cake since I had forgotten a fork.

But I wanted to be prepared. I’ve been fighting off some kind of intestinal bug all weekend and I made the loveliest discovery—as long as I keep eating, I don’t feel barfy.

I was still on the outskirts of Ann Arbor when I realized my water bottle was tucked deep in my tote bag. I figured I’d retrieve it at the next stop light. 

But, because my world always works this way, it wasn’t until Clinton that I encountered a red light that lasted long enough for me to dig down for my bottle. The timing of red lights—it’s one of the great mysteries of the universe.

And here’s another: Why does “world’s neediest driver” get zero hits on Google, but World’s Worst Driver gets nearly four million?

I’d say I’m in pretty good company, anyway.

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