The Backseat Driver

As a student driver, I am used to being shot dirty looks. I have become accustomed to blaring, screeching, and having my attention directed upward by people’s middle finger. Sometimes people in other cars are nasty, too.

I kid! My parents have never gotten that frustrated with me. And even when they are exasperated, I have to acknowledge their superiority, both in skill and experience.

However, I do not feel so forbearing about the orders being barked at me from the backseat.

The closest to driving that my 14-year-old sister has ever come was when we were about 6-years-old and our dad sometimes allowed us to hold the wheel as he slowly drove around the block. So, why is it that when I am driving, I always feel like I am the one who doesn’t know what she’s doing?

My sister has a very strong, commanding personality. She firmly believes that whenever she starts to drive, she will sit behind that wheel like young Beethoven sitting down at a piano stool. And, in no uncertain terms, she lets me know it.

For some reason, she feels that I cannot recognize a stop sign, tree, or closed garage when I see one, (apparently) that Mom’s occasional corrections are insufficient, and my chauffeuring is the equivalent of embarking on a slow, steady spiral of doom. She keeps a mental list of every mistake I have ever made, and when Mom tells her to move to the backseat because I am driving, she will loudly cry in anguish (perhaps stamping her feet and throwing up her hands for a more dramatic effect), “MOM! Last time Ali drove us home from class we almost crashed 3 times!”

Personally, I cannot remember an instance where I placed us in deadly peril thrice, but my sister will beg that I not be allowed to drive as if, indeed, her life does depend upon it.

Mom says that when I have my license, she will be much sweeter, so that I will take her places.

She says that she’ll have her license before I do.

I say good riddance.

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So, What’s a Floating Shift?

“So, what’s a floating shift?”

I started hearing this question a lot after serving as a high school mentor for my government club’s Junior Assembly. The focus of this assembly is for middle schoolers to participate in mock government, primarily brainstorming ideas for laws and debating them. However, students can also participate in the “unofficial branch of government”: press. As the only member of the state Press Corps PRESSent, I headed up press. (Sorry, for the bad pun; I couldn’t resist. Usually I’m on the dePRESSing end of press puns, which people tell me, I assume, exPRESSly to hear how loud I can groan. Okay, I’m done.)

Tiring, yet amazing, those five days meant a lot to me. Two of the students who stayed in my cabin were inspired to try press in high school, I was looking forward to being a media delegate at an upcoming national conference, had high hopes for being chosen as state Editor-in-Chief at the next State Assembly (which is the high school version of Junior Assembly), and I also had my first experience with blogging.

With my younger sister, Mackenzie, and I gone, my parents took the opportunity to rent a beach house in Anna Maria Island, where Dad took us after the assembly ended.

I could tell Mom was holding in a surprise as soon as we stepped out of the car. Partially because she was brimming over with excitement (which, in retrospect, could have been joy at having her daughters again) and partially because her first words were, “I’m so glad to see you! How was your week? I have something for you!”

It was a ring that she found in a local shop, Really Relish, which features upcycled and vintage wares. The ring was made of a typewriter key atop a beautiful vintage setting. The key read “floating shift”. “Floating” was in a flowing script cursive while “shift” was printed in small, no-nonsense letters.

I wondered what a “floating shift” was. Fortunately (and unfortunately) with the assistance of Google, few things remain secret (or private) for long. I found pictures of typewriters with a “floating shift” key. I found an article on about.com asking what a “floating shift” did (there was no reply). I even found pictures of more “floating shift” key rings, necklaces, and bracelets. I searched “floating shift functions” and “floating shift purpose”.

I could not find the purpose of a “floating shift” key.

I consulted my dictionary app. It listed floating clouds, floating dock, floating heart, (did reading that scare you as much as it did me?) floating screed, (no clue what that is) floating stock, floating vote, but no floating shift. Floating (according to definition #2) means “having no or little attachment to a particular place; moving from one place to another.” Shift has 28 meanings. (Who would’ve guessed?) However, I know that in typing, the shift key is used to capitalize letters.

By this definition, I consider myself a floating shift. I capitalize on random (usually irrelevant) objects, places, people, or ideas relevant to my life. For example, I could write on the trials of being a teenage kindergarten teacher, how to knit a 3-inch panda, or create a necklace using a water bottle.

What exactly does it mean to be a floating shift? That’s the point; it’s a mystery. I’m not entirely sure. Yet. Hey, I’m in high school; I’m trying to figure out a lot of things.

But I can’t wait to find out!