Steering Me Wrong

Dearest Rachel –

I’ve been driving for almost forty years – I probably should pull over and get a cup of coffee now again. But what’s been happening to my car is something I’ve never experienced before, and it’s getting me a little bit worried. I’ve been able to manage for a couple of days, but if the problem accelerates (yeah, that pun wasn’t intentional – and probably wasn’t in the best of taste), and I don’t get the matter resolved soon, I might end up joining you if I’m not careful.

I don’t even know what happened in order to cause it. But sometime this past weekend, I began to hear a ‘ka-chunk’ sort of sound upon trying to make a sharp turn into a parking space, and it felt like I’d lost my power steering. Now, I realize that there was once upon a time when cars didn’t have power steering, but these days, you tend to forget that, and take it for granted how easy it is to turn the wheel and have your front tires turned with it with the slightest of effort. As the saying goes, you never miss the water until the well’s run dry.

Strangely enough, I didn’t have a problem turning right; when I turned the wheel that way, it still functioned just fine. So while I was concerned about the noise that it was making, it wasn’t entirely obvious that anything was actually wrong.

By yesterday morning, however, the situation was a bit more concerning. You know how there’s a sort of standard configuration for the steering wheel, a position in which it’s supposed to be ‘upright’ and at that point and the car is heading straight forward? Again, it’s something you don’t think about until it’s not the case. And yesterday morning, it wasn’t anymore. It wasn’t a significant difference, but I had to hold the steering wheel about 20° off of center in order to keep going straight.

The weird thing is, you can adapt to these little changes over time when you need to. But that adaptability only goes so far.

On my way home from the ‘office,’ I was driving along, holding the steering wheel in this cockeyed position that I needed to in order to keep it going straight, when I started to veer off toward the side of the road. I did what I could to make a course correction, and now, I was holding the steering wheel at a 90° angle in the opposite direction in order to keep the car going straight.

Now, this is relatively manageable if you’re driving along a side street, where you’re not supposed to be going any faster than 20 or 25 miles an hour, and you don’t encounter too many other cars. But when you’re on a four-lane highway, doing about twice that speed, and the car starts to veer towards the center median despite the fact that you’re not turning the steering wheel, then gets a bit concerning.

In fact, it’s downright frightening.

But somehow, I managed to get where I was going to pick up dinner for Daniel (he actually had a craving for something for once – cheese ravioli, if you can believe it – which had me going a little bit more out of my way than I normally would, but it’s so rare that he knows what he wants of an evening, so it’s worth it), and then drive home without incident. Although, when I turned onto the northern section of the road we live on, which up there is a zigzag frontage road by the local highway, there was a set of lights behind me that had me wondering if I was being followed. Given the number of course corrections I’d been doing, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I was to be pulled over for impaired driving. Does it count as impaired if the impairment is somewhere in the car’s own workings?

Be that as it may, my paranoia was for naught; the car behind me turned off onto another highway before I got within a mile and a half of home. Still, it’s cause for concern, if not outright alarm, and I’m gonna have to get that looked at. On top of that, I’m going to have to get your car jumped, as we haven’t done anything with it since Daniel found himself stuck at home a couple Sundays ago; he’ll need to get me back to the mechanics’ to pick it up once it’s been dealt with.

I apologize that there’s nothing in this letter that leads to an ‘I miss you,’ or anything else beyond catching you up with the events and misadventures of my otherwise ordinary life. For what it’s worth, I did wake up with a dream about some romantic legend of a girl with homing sense with regard to finding her groom, but it didn’t really involve either of us, and for some reason or another it was taking place in Pittsburgh, of all places. Definitely the sort of story that you wake up scratching your head about. And it has nothing to do with reality at large, let alone mine. I just figured you’d wanna know.

Anyway, I’m sure there’s some sort of allegory to this, wherein His instructions of where to go are sent to me, and my wheels just don’t go the way God wants them to. But I guess I’m a little too concerned about the real life here and now to worry about the metaphorical and metaphysical for the moment.

At least I’ve managed to set up an appointment with Michael at the mechanics in order to have them take a look at it. At first, he gave me a date of Monday as the earliest opportunity for me to stop by, but when I described the situation, he suggested I get it over immediately. At least he’s concerned about keeping me within the living years.

At any rate, honey, wish me luck. It looks like I’m going to need it, as always.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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