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If You Roll Down My Window in the Car for Me, You’re an Asshole

Being presumptuous is no way to go through life

Look, there’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just cut to the chase. If you roll my car window down for me without asking first, you’re an asshole. 

I can tell I’m going to have to explain this one, so here, I’ll paint a scenario for you. 

Let’s pretend that you’re about to pick me up in your car. You pull up to my house, and you see me walking toward you. You smile and unlock the door. This is going to be fun. We’re going on a ride!

I sit down in the passenger seat. I put my seatbelt on. I turn toward you. Pleasantries are exchanged. 

“Hi.”

“Hello.” 

Now that that’s out of the way, you kick the car into drive. We take off, and for a brief moment, all is well. Birds are chirping, drought-ridden areas are experiencing rain and babies all around the globe are being born with a relievingly average number of toes.

But then, you ruin it. You roll my window down.

Instantly, my face is master-blasted with 1,000 cubic tons of hurricane-force wind. My hair whips at my corneas, morphing into a tangled gnarl of despair that blinds me as it slices across my watering eyes. The roar is deafening. It’s hard to breathe. “What?” I ask you when you try to tell me what Katie said to Andrew about something or other at that thing the other day. “WHAT?!” 

And then, just as you raise your voice to shriek your banalities over the violent gale, a butterfly, who, having just breathed a tiny sigh of relief after narrowly missing your windshield, gets sucked into the window and splatters tragically across my chin. 

Thank god it was a butterfly, too. It could have been much worse: 

I turn to you, disheveled and pleading for mercy. I never asked for this, but you have plucked at the strings of my reality like a fart-toned bass in an orchestra whose only melody is chaos. Now I’m broken, my expression wicked off my face like a wax strip pruning a pubic area. 

I get why you’re doing this. It’s summer. It’s hot outside. You want a nice, fresh breeze to cool us down, and you think that turning on the AC and rolling up the windows will melt the shrinking iceberg where the last living polar bear is marooned amidst an ever-warming sea. You think you’re doing me a favor by adding some wind to my world, and you believe you have every right to because this is your 2012 Kia Sorento and in your Sorento, we play by your rules. 

Yep — totally with you. 

Except I’m not. Because if I get in your car, and I sit in your passenger seat, that is now my area. It’s a microclimate that I exist in — one that has its own controls and features for a reason — and thus, it’s my choice whether I want to keep it hot, cold or just absolutely Twister-fucked with face-wind. 

If it irks you that I want to flex my personal space in your precious vehicle, consider how weird it would be if I rolled your window down. That would be insane! It’s in your area, and therefore, it’s yours to control. The same goes for your vents, seatbelt and cup holders. I wouldn’t reach over and shut off your AC vent because I was cold, would I? I wouldn’t buckle your seatbelt for you, or put my water bottle in the cup holder on your door, either. That wouldn’t make sense, would it?

It definitely wouldn’t on an airplane.  

Let me explain to you how airplane seats work. There are three of them in a row. The aisle seat gets the leg room, the middle seat gets two armrests and the window seat gets to look out at all the pretty clouds. The physical and social borders between these seats are strict and non-negotiable. But sometimes the line gets crossed and all hell breaks loose:

It’s because of awkward interpersonal strife like this that Middle Seat Dude doesn’t reach over Window Guy’s lap and close the shade so he can get some shut-eye — doing so would be a gross and flagrant violation of personal space (and a probable viral video). 

Don’t like it? Too bad — this is the Unspoken Rule of Windows™, and it most definitely applies to your car. Actually, it’s even worse in your car. A butterfly can’t die on my chin in a plane. 

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not that I love a scorching-hot car. I don’t. I’m not my colleague Quinn Myers (a real sick fuck, it turns out). Heat sucks — it just doesn’t suck as much as the presumption that I want face-wind. In fact, I find your little assumption to be far worse than the actual symptoms of Car Winditis itself. It’s the enforcing of your needs and beliefs onto me that bothers me here; your self-serving climate-control that hammers the final nail into my coffin of existential pain. 

I mean, why not just ask me if I want my window down? 

It’s so simple. Here, I’ll show you: “Want your window down?”

There. That wasn’t so hard, was it? 

I’ll admit that it’s not so hard to just roll up my window, either. I could easily just Ctrl + Z what you did to it and fume about it silently to myself. And I do. Usually. But baby, we have to stop doing this to each other. We have to stop fucking up each other’s hair like this. 

Lest you think I’m the asshole here, rest assured that I’ve already asked a statistically significant number of strangers on the internet whether that was true. The other day, I posted my car window quandary on a forum I knew would provide a steady moral compass — Reddit’s r/AmITheAsshole — and promptly discovered that not only did people think I wasn’t the asshole, but that they agreed with me. (Especially the people that had hair.)

“Rolling down the windows when you’re going a slow pace is fine, but getting hair-whipped at 50 mph sucks,” confirmed one redditor. Yep. 

“Not the asshole,” said another. “I don’t know why people presume unless they don’t have AC in the car.” Fair. 

A third sympathizer brings up an even more important point: a person wants their window down, they’re perfectly capable of doing it themselves. “I’m a grown woman,” she writes. “I can handle rolling a car window down a little if I want some fresh air!” Just like yours truly, she also can’t stand how “wind noise” means she “can’t hear what you’re saying” and that a forced window roll-down “messes up your hair.”

Now that you’ve been armed with this information and equipped with a detailed anti-asshole script, it’s my sincerest hope that you go forth into the world with a more empathetic, nuanced understanding of why I don’t want any dumbass fast air in my face. And if I do, I, like that nice lady from Reddit, would be happy to press that button myself. 

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