When it comes to in-car musical entertainment, clearly one person's pleasure can be another person's pain.
At a gas station not long ago, I leaned against my SUV and mindlessly watched the numbers on the display spin ever upward as my tank filled. Suddenly, a red pickup driven by an unkempt, 40ish male pulled up to the row of islands. As he brought his vehicle to a stop, everyone at the station turned and stared at him. The driver had all his windows open, and his stereo was blaring loudly enough so that each and every one of us could hear every syllable of an expletive-filled, unbelievably X-rated song.
I considered going over to inform him that the volume of his "music" was in violation of the vehicle code. Thankfully, that brief moment of dementia passed.
Instead, I threw him a dirty look when he wasn't looking, climbed back into my vehicle and turned on an "easy rock" channel on my satellite radio. As I drove out of the service station, I listened to Dan Fogelberg and forced myself to think peaceful, happy thoughts about rude, vulgar, irritating people.
When I bought my car last year, it came with a free one-year subscription to a satellite radio service. Frankly, if I hadn't gotten it for free, I'm fairly certain I never would have tried satellite radio. After all, why pay $12.95 a month to listen to the radio when you can listen to good old AM and FM for free?
However, I spend a lot of time on the freeway, since two of my sons go to high schools more than 60 miles apart. On these long treks, it has been my satellite radio that has kept me sane.
The only major disadvantage of satellite radio is that it is like cable TV - you have to be really careful with it if you have children in the car, because you can hear anything and everything on it. Although they might have family- friendly comedy channels, they also have Howard Stern - uncensored.
And, unfortunately, they have entire stations dedicated to my sons' music of choice - rap. While I have never been a fan of the genre, my dislike has been compounded by the fact that satellite radio does not even bother to bleep out the inappropriate parts.
As a defense, I have come up with a foolproof plan to rid my vehicle of rap. When I catch my sons trying to change the channel to a Snoop Dogg Fest, I simply flip the bill of the baseball cap that I usually have on after my morning exercise class to the back, put on my shades, slump really low in the driver's seat and drive with just my right arm extended straight to the steering wheel while I bop my head up and down to the beat.
For some reason, this causes such horror in my teenage sons that miraculously, the radio immediately changes back to my boring, innocuous, expletive-free soft-rock station.
Thus, another Gordy Mom decree has been quietly enforced: "He who driveth, controlleth the music."
Michelle Groh-Gordy is the owner of InterActive! Traffic School Online at www.trafficinteractive.com , and writes a syndicated weekly column on driving for the publications of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.