James Leonard, a 19-year-old who commutes to Central Methodist University, doesn’t like to feel as if he is not in control of things. He’s the type of man who has to be in charge of his surroundings, even if it’s just the place he sits at a food court table at Columbia Mall. For him, driving represents the ultimate control. Be it a trip to the grocery store or a trip to the state of California, he must be behind the wheel.
He doesn’t like it when his girlfriend demands her turn. But they never leave the house without bickering over the subject.
If the car’s turned on, Leonard insists on taking the driver’s seat. His driving, he says, is more experienced, more confident, more at ease. Not that he’d ever call her a “woman driver.” He’s not that confident.
“I mean it’s not that big of a deal, I guess, but we still fight about it,” he says. James always wins the argument.
He says the “discussion” about the matter never lasts more than five minutes. But it’s a discussion they always have — even if they aren’t “Gone in 60 Seconds.”
Whitney Killian, 19, works at a floral shop. She considers James’s insistence on driving annoying and a clear sign of stubbornness.
She really doesn’t care about the issue; it’s just the principle.
She is the talker of the two, giving the impression she can make James do what she chooses if she truly desires it.
“If I really wanted to drive, I could totally persuade him,” she says.
To her, he’s not the better driver. When she gets lost, she stops to ask for directions. He won’t. He just keeps going.
Those five-minute arguments aside, she says, “it’s just not that serious. As long as we go together, that’s all that is important.”