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By Ken Begley
There aren't many things that annoy me as much as when we travel in our van as a family. We have seven people in our family and the van holds exactly seven. It doesn't matter how close we are to where we're going, someone is always unhappy with the seating positions.
Cindy and I are always up front.
The rest of the seats are a free-for-all.
Everybody wants the two seats right behind the driver and front passenger seat. Nobody wants to sit all the way in the back. If you do sit in one of the three back seats then everyone wants the seat all the way to the right. This is the exit seat.
We have tried to be fair and give everyone a turn, but it always ends in a fight like this:
"What are you doing in that seat?"
"It's my turn."
"You little liar! You got to sit up front yesterday!"
Believe me, the kids are even worse.
Just kidding. It was the kids.
Anyway, it was always too hard to remember whose turn it really was. Also, the kids demanded their "turn" every time we came to a stop. It's true.
If you suddenly see a bunch of my kids jump out at a stoplight and start running around the van, don't think we're doing the old "Chinese fire drill" routine. We're just being fair and rotating the next kids to the favored seats.
We've tried other methods like, "first come, first serve."
This got the kids to race out of the house at breakneck speed to get to the favored seats when we were ready to leave. It was sort of interesting to see this "mini-Olympics" two or three times a day.
The less fleet-of-foot began to beat this method by coming out to the car 15 minutes ahead of departure time. I was puzzled at first.
"Hey Jenny, what are you doing?"
"Waiting to go to school."
"We don't leave for 15 minutes."
" I know, but I want this seat."
"You do realize that school is only two minutes away don't you?"
Kids can be so childish. But what do you expect from a kid?
My problem came when my oldest daughter got her license. She demanded her right to exercise it on occasion.
"I'm driving Daddy, get in the back."
"Why doesn't Momma have to get in the back?"
"Cause if Momma isn't happy, then no one is happy. So get in the back."
I accepted her logic, but took my demotion to the inferior seats with less than my normal good nature.
"Scoot back to the end, Jenny."
"No. I was here first. You go to the back."
I started to tell Belle to get in the back, but couldn't as she looked at me with those big brown "Precious Moments" eyes. She looked so cute. A guy named Patrick McManus once said that "cute" was nature's way of protecting the weak. He's right.
"OK, I'll get in the back."
I saw a look of real fear in the eyes of my seat partners in the back as I wedged my considerable posterior between them. We were like sardines and they gave painful groans. This hurt my delicate feelings, but not as much as it did their bodies.
The one in the favored exit seat popped out like a BB from a BB gun when we reached our destination. Fortunately no lasting damage was done. That is unless you count my back, which I threw out climbing back there.
My boy came out to the garage Saturday afternoon and found me in the van just sitting there.
He asked, "What are you doing?"
"Waiting to leave for church."
"We don't leave for 30 minutes."
"I know, but Jenny will be here in 15 minutes and I want this seat."
Editor's note: Ken Begley is a columnist for The Springfield Sun.