Memorial Day is upon us and we Americans do what we do best. Throw epic Bar-B-Ques and hit the open road! We at Fast Lane Racing School are a bit partial to the later(although, we cant say no to a juicy steak either) and have many road trips lined up for the summer. That being said, we often have similar issues as you when going on an epic voyage, especially when traveling together. One of the biggest issues we seem to come across is who gets to ride shotgun. Its a common problem. And while calling Shotgun may seem like fun and games, but just like in the days of covered wagons, there are serious responsibilities that come with the sacred privilege of occupying this seat. So we decided to give you the Official Rules of Riding Shotgun. May the best passenger win!
1. Standard Rules
1.1 You Must Say The Word “Shotgun”
You must say the word “Shotgun” to stake your claim on Shotgun. This must be done clearly and loud enough so that at least one other to-be occupant of the vehicle can hear you. No variations of this word are acceptable. After you have legally called Shotgun, you have exclusive rights to Shotgun for that ride and the deed is done. However, if no one verifies your Shotgun call, it is still fair game for everyone.
Any person who wishes to claim shotgun must actually pronounce the word “Shotgun”. One may not say the name of a type of shotgun, such as “12 Gauge.” If a passenger does, then he or she can lay no claim on shotgun, and it may be called by another person.
A passenger may only receive shotgun if they says shotgun within the context of calling shotgun. For instance, a passenger may not be awarded shotgun if he says, “Did anybody call shotgun?,” or if they were talking about a shotgun.
If you reside in a non-English-speaking locale, Shotgun may be called by its native word. For instance, in Sweden, the word “Hagelbossa” may be pronounced, while in Germany, “Schrotflinte.” Shotgun may be called in any language the driver is fluent in. “Fluent” is described here as being proficient enough in a language to understand conversation exchanges.
Order of preference rewards English (shotgun’s native language) then the language closest to the native language of the locale in which Shotgun is called. For instance, if the call is made is Sweden, and the only calls were “Schrotflinte” and “Escopeta” (Spanish), respectively, the seat will be given to the second caller, as German is closer-related to Swedish than Spanish is.
Once Shotgun has been claimed, alternate seats can be claimed in the same manor. After all, who wants to get caught riding the center of the back seat?
1.2 The Deed Must Be Done Before Shotgun May Be Called
For these rules to work properly, it is essential that you understand and accept the concept of the “Deed.” Shotgun may only be called after the “Deed is Done.” Simply stated, the Deed is any activity or objective that directly precedes the ride in the automobile.
The Deed can be anything, ranging from a stop at a friend’s house, to a shopping trip at the mall, to frequenting a roadside rest-stop on an Interstate highway. Accepting the concept of the “Deed” is critically important because it establishes a Shotgun-calling time frame that ensures everyone has an equal chance of recognizing when to call Shotgun.
***There is no crime greater than calling Shotgun on Monday in reference to a ride to the concert on Friday.
1.3 You Must Be Outside to Call Shotgun
If the Deed takes place indoors, the Deed is considered done after you have left the building in which the Deed took place. All passengers need not have exited the building, but someone must hear you call Shotgun.
Some people choose to use a variation of this rule and require that all occupants be out of the building before Shotgun can be called. This does not work. It leads to everyone calling Shotgun at the same time and often ends in physical violence.
1.4 The Shotgun Gaper
Gapers (gey-pers) are people who prioritize Shotgun much more than a normal human being. These people will alter their usual behavior and even undermine their own ethics in order to gain the rights to Shotgun. They do this through legal means, however – such as sprinting for an exit – and therefore they cannot be Voided. The term Gaper was coined after the most infamous Gaper of all, Will Henderson, rode Shotgun for 2 months straight. The advantage to being a Shotgun Gaper, of course, is that you always get Shotgun. Being a Shotgun Gaper, however, is frowned upon.
Whenever you break a Shotgun rule as stated in this guide, you may be “voided” from receiving Shotgun privileges for that ride. Although somewhat discretionary, voiding automatically applies if you call Shotgun while indoors, if you do not have your shoes on, or if you display any other blatant disregard for Shotgun protocol. In circumstances of minor Shotgun rules infractions, voiding may not need to be exercised. Voiding only applies for the ride directly after the voiding has occurred, and after that ride you may regain full Shotgun privileges. Once someone has been voided, then all of the other passengers are free to once again call Shotgun in the correct manner.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Because Shotgun is constantly evolving for the greater benefit of mankind, new rules need to be created regularly. Anyone is welcome to implement their own rule if the situation arises. New rules often need to be created following a major discrepancy. If you know of any rules you think should be added to the "Official" list, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, we look forward to seeing you in the Fast Lane!