Throughout my travels I’ve had all kinds of rental cars. I’ve had big ones (Crown Vic) normal ones (Pontiac G6), and even tiny baby ones (Mazda Maida). However, last week my rental car had something that I have never had before. No, not crabs or the clap. It had this little diddity:
Can you tell what it is? It is a gas/brake lever for paraplegics. Push it forward for brake, pull it down for gas – and push it forward and down for tire smoking power breaking. You know what? It was sort of fun to play around with while I was driving. Was it safe? Probably not. In fact, there were huge stickers all over it saying “if you have not been trained, don’t use this… blah blah blah”. That huge sticker was sure hard to read as I was flying down the highway. Not being trained for something has never stopped me before! Of course, it is a very utilitarian tool for people who have unfortunately lost the use of their legs. Hundreds of thousands of people in the US suffer with lifeless or not existent limbs each and every day – and it is certainly not “fun” for them. However, I think that everyone reading this has played around with crutches when they were a kid or has raced wheelchairs in the hospital while waiting for someone to get better. In fact, some of us do those things when we are NOT kids (guilty as charged).
As I was driving around suburban Atlanta, I would periodically let my hands do the talking. It did cramp my gansta lean driving style, but a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do. I found out a few interesting things while driving with my hands. Most importantly, I incorrectly assumed that my hands were far superior in the fine motor skills department. Not so when it comes to driving. I had a super hard time controlling the rate of stopping and starting. I can’t count the number of tire screeching stops that I made. Also, I found out that driving with the lever took a lot of my concentration. I would get side tracked looking at something and let my arm slip off of the handle. Before I knew it, I was going 10-15 mph slower than the speed limit. Finally, I found that it is very hard to do a number of things. I couldn’t drink coffee, change the radio, etc etc with one hand on the lever and one hand on the wheel. I needed to sprout a THRID hand.
So, while I had lots of fun with the lever, I can honestly say that I really hope that I never HAVE to use one. But if I do, I will be all practiced up. That, and if I get a lever in my car, I am for sure sticking my feet up on the dash while driving. Why? Because I can.