Put Your Foot Down

The Plumber was moaning about the cost of running a car. I told him that this was something outside my experience. He told me that his Father, who is registered blind, has three cars.  What is it that makes people who can’t see much, or even anything at all, want to own a car?

The Plumbers Father has a people carrier that his wife drives him around in, in the endless rounds of house clearing, trips to the supermarket and dog walking.  Then there is a little natty number that she nips in and out of traffic in, that’s low to the ground and easy to park. He likes the feedback that being so low on the road gives him. It reminds him of his youth. Then there is the sports car, top down wind in his hair job. Being a passenger is no bar to enjoying a bit of speed.

A friend of mine, who I shall not name as I want to protect my sources, drove himself to the optician to get his diagnosis of legal blindness. True, he could still see something, but not enough to drive. It didn’t stop him from driving himself home or to work the following morning, before his wife put her foot down so to speak.

My chum, The Tech, grew up in a family where everyone loved cars. From the age of fourteen he was driving on private land.  By seventeen, he could properly drive, he just couldn’t see a car, let alone a number plate, at twenty-five yards. It was the first time in his life the law stopped him from doing something. When all his friends were learning to drive, he was banned from doing something he could already do. He felt miserable about it. That, as they say, was not the end of that.

While his friends were selling pizzas and pulling pints to pay for their driving lessons, he became a rather successful second hand car dealer. He knew all there was to know about three-year-old #Mondeos and spruced up #Golfs. When perspective buyers were tempted he had all the patter. When they fancied a test drive and asked if he could take it to the slip road and they’d take it from there, he’d explain this wasn’t how it was going to happen. No one seemed phased by the notion of a partially sighted car salesman.

One or two of his customers thought his lack of sight was a tragedy. Surely something could be done? A prescription windscreen perhaps? He had the last laugh. He made a packet.

I met a man who lost his sight in a car accident. His ambition was still to drive a formula one car. There is something magical about being in control of a powered vehicle on your own. My exploits in friends’ cars don’t count because I was never alone. The most I ever managed was the sit on lawn mower. I enjoyed taking the corners too fast. Apparently lawns should not have tyre marks on them or islands of tufted grass where I “missed a bit”. I was banned from the family lawn mower.

#Steve Mahan was the first person to ever drive an autonomous
vehicle.  He went to a drive through and ordered a taco, then he
picked up his dry cleaning. Steve is blind.
https://youtu.be/peDy2st2XpQ
 

The zazazoo of putting your foot down and ratcheting it up a gear is hard to put into words. Just maybe driving autonomy might be coming to a town near me before I turn up my toes.

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