Welcome to part one of our reversely-ordered two part guide to Riding Shotgun. We have already covered what a shotgunner’s duties are once the position is acquired, but how does one determine who has the privilege of the coveted front passenger seat?

There HAS to be a better way!
First thing’s first (because if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be called first): the driver is the supreme judge of all vehicular rulings. He acts as the Electoral College to the passengers’ otherwise sacred democracy; that is, normally he will honor the results that have been decided by a democratically created process, but he still doesn’t trust the commoners with their own power enough to let them really decide. This prevents us from being a danger to ourselves; what could go wrong…
Pictured: what could go wrong.

However, there are five fairly universal rules that, if followed, will keep the shotgun drama to a minimum and allow the driver to focus on getting you there in one piece.

#1 The Car Must Be In Sight
How can you call something if you don’t even know it exists? Maybe the car blew up while you were all at the game. Do you really want to be king if your throne is a molten pile of metal and cheap leather?

#2 You Must Be Outside On the Way To The Car
This means no calling it in advance or before others have a fair shot (getting in on a race early is no indicator of potential or ability anyways; see Rand Paul’s presidential campaign). A start time must be set so that there is no grey area of he-said-she-said-we-all-said’s. By the time you are leaving the game, you should’ve forgotten who dibsed shotty (as if that even counted) on the way home. If you haven’t, you either weren’t enjoying the game enough or drinking enough (i.e. enjoying the game enough).

Not that you should be taking anything but a party bus to and from the game anyway.

#3 Someone Must Hear You Call It
Someone must hear you call it. If someone calls shotgun in the woods and no one is there to hear it, do you still get front seat? No. A tree should fall on you. If nobody had to hear it, anyone could claim they said it first. Speak up.

#4 Rock-Paper-Scissors Settles All Ties
If two people call shotty at the same time, a supreme battle of wits and strength that is a sudden death Rock-Paper-Scissors match (on “Shoot!” because we aren’t savages) must ensue before a victor is decided. None of this best two out of three business either. Everyone wants to get on the road so they can open that gallon tub of Twizzlers.

And then someone says they prefer Red Vines…

#5 Give it to The Tallest (or Most… Horizontally Expansive…) Person
Look, just let the tallest or otherwise largest person have the front seat. While being tall makes the world one’s oyster, it makes driving in a car feel like they are literally in an oyster. And if cramming someone into the backseat makes it uncomfortable for him and the two other passengers (I assume since you are browsing the Gentleman’s Guide to Everything and not the Soccer Mom’s Guide to Everything that you are not driving a minivan or SUV…), do what’s best for society and give everyone that little bit of breathing room back.

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