Sunday, January 11, 2015

Phraseology: "Calling Shotgun"

Dear readers

Welcome to first installment of

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It is in human nature to take for granted the things we use, the people we associate, and the phrases we say. Too long have we tossed around words like “sorry”, “love” and “mazletov” without giving a single thought to the weight the carry. 
But it is one particular phrase, impenitently caterwauled by every dense jock, dumb blonde and dim frat boy, which we have chosen to enlighten the populace about this day. 

That notorious phrase is “Calling Shotgun”

Phraseology Sawed off Shotgun 12 10 gauge art call riding

It infuriates me when I see the dull gleam in some ignoramus’ eye, froth forming around its mouth as it enthusiastically blabbers out these words with glee, utterly oblivious to the severity of the charge it has undertaken. 

Before my rage envelopes me and I start to introduce these dullards to my little friend (and I don’t mean my genitalia), let us delve into the origins of this infamous phrase.

Traversing the perilous routes of the Wild Dusty Old West was a testing task for any traveler stricken with wanderlust. Dangers lurked at every turn in the form of the elements, disease, beasts and especially man himself.

Bandits Chasing stage coach carraige call shotgun phraseology riding Bandits stalked the roads preying, on merchants, traders and carriages of all sort, at gunpoint. Protection became a desperate necessity for all voyages. The only solution present to the common folk was to fight fire with fire, or in this case buckshot with buckshot. By the late 19th century every station wagon carrying precious cargo had a guard, armed with a 12 gauge shotgun. Thus was coined the expression “Shotgun messenger”. The responsibilities and risk that comes with assuming this highly hazardous position next to the driver will make most of us think twice before squabbling over it again. 

Imagine it’s the late 18 hundreds and our leading man, the proverbial moronic man-child, is giddy at his claimed station. A shotgun in his hand and stupid smile plastered to his face. His head bobs gaily along to the rhythm of the cart now making its way along a dirt path. Its consignment, a strongbox full of gold. He gazes naively at a cloud of dust rapidly approaching the carriage. He’s too daft and it’s too late when he realizes that it’s a posse of outlaws that bears down at them. Soiling his breeches he fumbles at the shotgun. Too daft, too late. A volley of bullets rains down upon them and his body is soon as hollowed out as his head was. Such was life in the merciless plains of untamed America. 

Keen instinct, marksmanship, navigation, general combat readiness and balls of steel are all vital skills that a man assuming the position of shotgun should possess, something that our protagonist sadly didn’t.
Fortuitously in this day and age, uttering the phrase equates to good seating and a better view but what you may not know is that even today this role comes with certain duties. To clarify I shall now read to you some excerpts from the “manual of riding shotgun”.

Manual of Riding Shotgun call Phraseology header

~ The responsibility of morale falls into your lap (figuratively, you need not give them any sexual gratification. If they badger you about your new found position,you may retort with phrases such as  “you snooze you lose”and“stop whining you mummy’s boy” )  

~ You are in charge of the entertainment of the vehicle, be it selecting the appropriate genre of music, changing the radio channel, or the song, etc (Only an executive decision by the owner of the car or the driver may overrule your decision.Other passengers can go to hell if they don’t like “I would walk 500 miles” by the Proclaimers). 

~ Aiding the driver in the navigation of the vehicle is another task you must undertake (Within limits of course. A rush of contradicting information may disorient the driver. Worst case scenario you are arguing with Siri, the Car’s GPS and the self-appointed backseat drivers. The driver is so overwhelmed that he decides to turn the car around and go back home….no one’s eating Nando’s tonight) 

~ One must also alert the driver of his surroundings in the case of danger. (Worst case scenario everyone in the car is engrossed in a controversial debate, the topic in argument “boxers or briefs”; whilst you are all nodding your heads to the rhythm of “what is love, baby don’t hurt me”. Before you can say “Bob’s your uncle who has a venereal fungal…disease” the vehicle runs over a cute puppy…you and the driver are officially the most hated people in the entire world)

~ Hatred and loathing are left outside the vehicle door. Once assuming position, you and the driver are the best of friends. (You are the Samwise Gamgee to the driver’s Frodo Baggins. You are the C3PO to the driver’s R2D2. The Spock to the Driver’s Kirk. The Watson to the driver’s Sherlock. The Sancho Panza to the driver’s Don Quixote. The Chandler to the driver’s Joey. The Tina Fey to the driver’s Amy Poehler. The Seth Rogen to the driver’s James Franco).

Footer Manual of Riding Shotgun call Phraseology

Those were only a few lines off the book “the manual of riding shotgun” which is available on the person of every dicey looking stranger, in every dark and dank corner, near you.
Please feel free to share this article with those annoying acquaintances who at every opportunity take it upon themselves to call shotgun.

I hope we all learnt something from the opening episode of phraseology. I learnt that trivial phrases such as “calling shotgun” really aren’t worth getting irked by.

But tune in next time where, in a complete shift in direction and tone, we’ll be answering the most serious question ever to be conceptualized. 

“What is life?”    


May contain graphic and violent imaginary cues.
Venturing into dark dank corners maybe hazardous to your health and mortality.
I neither approve nor condone stereotyping. Stereotypes bad. Equality good. Don’t believe me,click me! 

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