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Good to sometimes be the passenger

October 23, 2011
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Community editor, Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

There are times when I like to be in the driver's seat.

And there are times when I'm glad I'm a front-seat passenger, too.

I was happy to be the latter this past Wednesday during the late afternoon when Better Half and I were driving home and got swept up in the sky spectacle that captured the attention of many area residents looking heavenward.

Those crazy clouds were the likes of something mine eyes had never seen. Apparently that was the case for a lot of other area residents, too.

I pointed them out to Better Half as we were cruising down Sunset Boulevard, marveling so much about what I was seeing that he couldn't help but have a look for himself.

When he did, he was just as surprised and amazed as I was.

The sky looked like an oil painting to us - a scene that resembled waves or mountains or something wonderfully majestic.

It was not your everyday Wednesday sky.

It certainly seemed as if we were witnessing something quite spectacular and out of the ordinary.

We drove around close to home, oohing and aahing and ultimately catching the attention of a neighbor who probably figured us to be nuts if not nuttier.

I heeded Better Half's urging to "get the camera!" and snapped some photos, one of which ended up on the front page of Thursday's Herald-Star, but the picture - like all the other ones I saw through news accounts or on Facebook posts - came up short in the grand scheme of things when it came to capturing the beauty of it.

So, yes, that was a good time to be a passenger, since driving and gawking at something don't really mix well.

Other times when I've been a passenger, I've had many important jobs to do, not just point out how wonderful the sky looks.

When our kids were little, for instance, and we might be taking a drive of some distance, I would be in charge of beginning a round of the ever-popular keep-them-entertained traveling game by the name of "I spy with my little eye something that is ." some particular color, preferably not green or gray since they're a bit in excess thanks to the road and highway landscape.

Or as a passenger, I've been the one who's got us where we're headed, not because I've done the actual driving, but because I've done the navigating, interpreted the signs, mulled over maps, searched for the exits, acted as a human GPS. Of course, it's not always the right way. Sorry. Redirecting.

The front-seat passenger wears many hats, not just as travel companion but as the one who makes gum and refreshments available, a sip of coffee, the correct change for the toll booth up ahead, you get the picture.

And let's not forget masterminding the music - finding the CDs requested or switching the stations.

It's not an easy job.

But as Better Half would say, "Do what you want. I'm just along for the ride."

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at

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