Sunday, April 01, 2012

On the Road Again

I don't think it completely sank in until the driving instructor asked me how long it had been since I'd been behind the wheel of a car, but it was September 2010 – probably the drive to the train station to catch the DownEaster to Boston for my first surgery.

Long story short, I had my first driving "lesson" last Tuesday in order to prepare to take my road test and regain my license. Much of the hour spent in a supermarket parking lot and on quiet roads were simply to get me used to the feel of driving again, especially with some modifications that will be made to my car. Fortunately, AAA provides a pre-modified car for practice. Because my weakness is on the left side, the only modifications I really need are in moving the turn signals from the left side of the steering column and the addition of a knob to the steering wheel to make one-handed turns easier. Many people I mention that to have responded with a little glee, "Oh, you mean a suicide knob!" I've had a little trouble finding a true origin to that term, but I understand they were fairly common pre-power steering and in hot rods. I'll have to go back and re-watch Rebel Without a Cause and American Graffiti and look out for them.The image originally conjured for me by that term was that such a knob could make it easier to drive off a bridge. And, as it turns out, they are often called "Brodie Knobs" for a man made famous for jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. They're apparently also called "necker knobs", though that's not much use to me, since I'd have to take my good hand off the wheel entirely in order to make my move (if I had a move to make, that is). The state tends to frown upon drivers having no hands on the wheel, which is one of the reasons why a simple turn signal extension arm over the center of the steering column toward the right side of the wheel is not as preferable as hand-accessible signals built directly into the spinner knob.

The good news is that these modifications are pretty basic and were relatively easy to get used to. And I didn't scare the driving instructor or the OT from the rehab horribly, nor did I take out any bystanders or mailboxes during my practice time.

I'm looking forward to one more practice run before having our car modified and scheduling my road test. In the meantime, look for me and my chrome skull suicide knob out drag racing in my sweet '96 Toyota Avalon, on my way to watch the submarine races at Inspiration Point.

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