Horace," nagged the cross looking woman in the back seat, "are you sure we
don't need oil? You'd better have the man look over that back tire
while we're here. Is the radiator full of water? Remember
what I told you - "
dear," the solemn faced man behind the wheel mumbled mechanically as he
received his change from Joe Clark, threw the ignition switch and kicked the
starter button. Meanwhile the flow of advice and commands from the
woman in the back seat continued.
not to grind the gears, Horace! Don't let in the clutch too
fast, you jarred me terribly the last time - look out! There's a car
coming! You'll hit it sure as I'm alive - "
dear," floated back to the garage-man's cars as the car rolled away.
like to be tied to that for the rest of your life?" grinned Joe Clark to his
partner Gus Wilson, who was working on a car in front of the Model Garage.
grunted the veteran auto mechanic. "Every time I hear a nagging woman
like that I'm glad I'm a bachelor. She's a 'back-seat driver' for - "
Quick!" Joe interrupted with a shout. "Whatever is that bird trying to
do! He's heading straight for that parked car. If he doesn't
head out pretty soon - by Jinks, he woke up just in time - and now look at
him skid! That's no trick to be playing on a wet road - twice around
and going straight at the telegraph pole!"
car's speed slackened considerably before it hit the pole and luckily for
the occupants, it was traveling backwards at the moment so the impact came
directly on the center of the rear bumper
cushioned the blow to some extent, but Gus and Joe distinctly heard the snap
as the spring steel gave way.
Gus and Joe could reach the scene of the accident, it was quite evident no
one was seriously injured for they could hear the woman rasping on
what you've done, Horace!
you pay more attention? I never saw anyone so careless! The
whole trip is ruined, and it's all your fault!"
owner had been aimlessly puttering around, muttering "Yes, my dear," but
this last remark suddenly got his goat.
"Yes, my -
Aw, rats!" he snarled savagely. "Lay off me! How the dickens can
I drive a car with you jawing all the time? If you know so much about
it, you can do it yourself, from now on. I'm through!" And with
that he dashed a wrench on the ground glared at his wife defiantly, spun on
his heel and stalked off down the road.
where I cure one back-seat driver of a mighty bad habit," whispered Gus to
unfortunate accident, madam," he said stepping up to the side of the car.
"Can we help you out?"
men from that garage we stopped at," the woman said. "Well it's a good
thing that fool husband of mine had sense enough to have this accident where
it could be fixed. He doesn't pay any attention to what I say - just
goes along and drives to suit himself. I'll give him a piece of my
mind all right!"
drive the car to the garage?" asked Gus after he and Joe had freed the
spring that had caught around the pole. "I don't know how to drive,"
Gus, with an odd smile.
drive for you. I can make a temporary repair on the bumper, and there
isn't much else to fix."
marched down the road and perched on a stone wall where he was calmly
smoking a cigarette.
bother with him!" rasped his wife. "He can stay there forever for all
I care! Drive to the garage."
As soon as
Gus had stopped the car in the garage, he and Joe set to work.
matter with the car, anyway?" the woman inquired.
madam," replied Gus, "this car has a broken rear bumper. The gas tank
is dented, a mud guard in bent out of line. That's what's wrong.
But as for what caused it, I'd say it was - you!"
gasped indignantly. "Ridiculous! How could I be to blame when I
wasn't even driving the car?"
didn't actually have your hand on the wheel," Gus growled, "but from what I
heard while you were getting gas you do all your driving from the back seat.
No man can drive a car and do a good job of it with somebody pouring advice
into his ear all the time. You probably kept telling your husband how
to drive until he got so flustered he didn't know what he was doing.
Take it from me, if you want to avoid trouble let your husband drive in
peace. You admit you don't know how to drive so your advice couldn't
be worth much anyway!"
interrupted Horace, who had silently entered in time to hear most of Gus's
remarks. "That's just what I've been telling you all the time, and you
wouldn't listen to me! Now you get exactly the same thing from
somebody that really knows something about automobiles!"
settled with Gus, climbed into the car and stepped on the starter. His
wife started to speak and then gulped back the words with a quick look at
exclaimed Joe. "It almost looks as though you'd shut her up."
replied Gus, "but I doubt it. Takes a lot more than that to cure a
woman who's in the habit of bossing her husband."
"A lot of
people don't seem to realize that driving a car really does require the
undivided attention of the party doing the job. Something may happen
any second. Suppose, for instance, you are bowling along on a
straight, wide road and no cars or crossroads in sight - a pretty rare
combination in these days of crowded roads!"
kind of a trip you dream about," Joe interrupted with a grin.
agreed Gus, "but just look at the number of things that can happen.
Suppose your head is turned halfway round to catch a remark by someone on
the back seat. At that particular instant a front tire decides to blow
out. Maybe you'll get your attention back in time to keep the car from
plunging into the ditch and maybe you won't.
there's always a chance of a car coming out of a side road that you didn't
see, or perhaps a kid on a bicycle. What chance would you have?
to the nerve experts, it takes the average man about a tenth of a second to
react to any kind of a stimulus. That means that at least a tenth of a
second goes by between the instant your eyes tell you that you ought to put
on the brakes and the instant when your foot starts pushing on the brake
pedal. If you're only going thirty miles an hour, the car travels
nearly nine feet during the time that it takes you to realize that you
should put on the brake, and it goes a few feet more before you get the
handicap like that you can't afford to let your attention be diverted while
you're right, on paper at least." Joe commented somewhat
sarcastically, "but you can't make me believe that every fellow that's
driving a car ought to sit there with his hands gripping the wheel like grim
death and his eyes glued to the road. What fun would there be in
get me at all," Gus replied. "I didn't mean anything of the kind.
But the driver ought to consider driving his main job - keep that thought in
the front of his head at all times. Of course if he can talk to the
other passengers, kind of casual like, with the part of his brain that isn't
concentrated on driving, there's no harm done, but if it distracts his mind
at all he certainly ought to cut it out."
me that drivers ought to keep their feet on the pedals all the time," Joe
good," replied Gus, "but you can't do it unless you operate the throttle by
means of the control on the steering wheel. You can't very well have
your foot on the accelerator pedal and the brake pedal at the same time and
if you keep your foot on the brake pedal and work the throttle by hand the
chances are you will get into trouble unless you're mighty familiar with
that way of doing things. In a sudden emergency you are likely to jam
on the brake without closing the throttle and the drive shaft or some other
part may give way under the strain."
you're right," Joe agreed. "And now that you've added mental treatment
to your list of accomplishments, how about working up some way to throw a
scare into my wife? She's developing back seat driving tendencies,