Q. Who rides where in an automobile?


In most American taxis, passengers may only sit in the back seat, so it is obvious that the junior member sits in the middle of the seat, the least comfortable. In a limousine, the junior member takes either the front seat next to the driver, the less comfortable jump seat in the middle of the car, or the middle seat in the back. There are many tales in America of a junior member of a firm losing his prospect for promotion––if not his job––because he unwittingly took the most comfortable seat in the car when riding with a senior executive.

Contrary to the proper seating arrangement in Japan, in the United States the front seat of a private car next to the driver is considered the most comfortable seat and is therefore offered to the most senior member of a group. To an American, it seems odd to be “banished” to the back seat when riding alone with the driver, even though the driver is only being polite according to Japanese custom.

If three persons are traveling in the back seat, the middle seat should be taken by the youngest or junior member of the party. Unless the front–seat rider is elderly or physically disabled, he or she should offer to switch seats with those riding in the back seat from time to time.

In America, when two couples are in riding together in a car, one couple rides in front and the other in back.