Putting Yourself In The Figurative Driving Seat

| Germany | Golden Years

(My grandparents married in the 60s. My grandma was a shy and quiet women, while my grandfather has always been irrationally angry and rude. While their relationship wasn’t abusive, it certainly wasn’t all butterflies either. When my parents got together in the 80s, my mum as, their daughter-in-law, taught my grandma a lot about feminism and standing up for yourself. Her favourite story is about the first time my grandma clearly told her husband she wouldn’t take his sh**ty behaviour anymore. They were in the car after a holiday. My grandfather never learned to drive, but always insisted on knowing better than the actual driver. The entire holiday, he’d been shouting and berating my grandma for her driving. They’re barely two miles from home, and she’s had enough.)

Grandpa: “There you go again, you idiot. What was that turn? I’m surprised we didn’t have a crash on this trip.”

Grandma: “I know how to drive. I haven’t had an accident in 20 years.”

Grandpa: “Dumb luck!”

(My grandma suddenly stops at the side of the road.)

Grandma: “I think I heard something rattle. Could you go out and check if anything’s broken?”

Grandpa: “You probably caught a raccoon or something.”

(The moment my grandpa is out of the car and the door shut, my grandma drives off. She can see him hopping and shouting in the rear-view mirror. She gets home, calmly unpacks all of the luggage, and waits for my grandpa to arrive — about an hour later.)

Grandma: “I’ve been driving your sorry a** around for years, and you keep complaining. If you don’t like how I drive, I won’t ever force you to be in a car with me again. From now on you can figure out yourself how you get anywhere!”

(Grandpa didn’t say a word, just nodded. He was allowed in the car with her a few months later, but never complained about her driving again. That was only the first of many little moments where my grandma asserted herself. When I was a child, my grandpa was already a lot more well-behaved and friendly, and I’ve only ever known my grandma as a strong, self-reliant, and energetic woman.)

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