Unwritten Laws Explained: Shotgun!

American culture has blessed the world with many advancements far beyond the limited scope of Old Europe – among them chewing gum, jeans, military intervention on suspicion as well as the realisation that an automobile can be filled with up to 5 individuals: carpooling.

Shared car use benefits the environment, yet comes with its own set of drawbacks. Certain seating positions inside an average ‘small to large’ vehicle leave much to be desired. Not wishing to base the distribution of seats on secular values such as body size, wealth, beauty and other trifles has led to the development of a sophisticated system, which rewards passengers with a quick reaction and which can be learned with a few practice runs.

This system is based on the proclamation of certain catch phrases by any of the passengers before the other passengers (the driver usually qualifies for his own seat by means of car ownership, possession of a valid driver’s license or systematic teetotalism). According to international regulations, the exclamations listed below may only be issued on the way to the car and when already outside the building that is being exited.

The most desired seat is undoubtedly the front passenger seat and so it is usually claimed first – with an outcry of ‘Shotgun!’. The origin of this position’s name will not be found in the context of drive-by shootings, rather it roots itself in pioneer culture. It refers to the attendant of a mail coach, seated at the fore, beside the postilion, so as to be able to defend the vehicle with a heavy-caliber weapon against highwaymen and other bandits.

Once claimed, the shotgun position can be vetoed by the driver by means of the  ‘pretty woman rule’. It allows the pilot to adjudicate the pillion to a beautiful female among the carpool. Obviously this proviso can be reworked in the light of gender mainstreaming.

Once the front positions are claimed, the middle rear bench seat becomes the focus of fearful apprehension. The outcry designed to match this sentiment is ‘Not Bitch!’ and obviates further explanation. Another proviso attaches itself to the outcry ‘Bitch!’ in association with the name of a specific passenger: it gives the driver an opportunity to designate a further ‘pretty woman’ from the collective to the rear middle position. Good breeding or fear of possible consequences will in all likelihood preclude such a move.

Should any preferences prevail regarding the remaining two positions, these can be claimed with an outcry of ‘turret’ or ‘Bonnie’ (for the right-hand rear seat) and ‘cargo’ or ‘Clyde’ (for the left-hand rear seat). The turret/cargo nomenclature bases itself on the armament of an army hummer, the ‘Bonny/Clyde’ variant can only be deemed arbitrary.

One interesting and helpful stipulation applies during journeys in the company of momentary or notorious drunks. By shouting ‘Shaggalagga!’ one is guaranteed a seat outside the immediate vicinity of intoxication.

Details and further additional rules such as a shout of ‘Blitz!’ (entailing a race to the car to claim one’s desired position) or ‘Golden!’ (claiming a particular seat for the trip back) as well as the pirate rule and the ‘Couple’s Right of 1997’ can be studied on relevant websites and their validity for your carpool should be discussed before leaving the building.


Ray has been painting and writing for CRAP-MAGAZINE since the year dot.
His images for Zombie oh Zombia! rendered him famous overnight.

Translation from German by Marion.

Want more in english? Unjustly Scorned – Vol. 1

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