Driving is Exciting!
Isn't driving exciting? Really... isn't the entire idea of owning and operating a machine that weighs thousands of pounds, and is capable of hurtling forward at over 100 miles per hour, compelling? Sometimes I wonder what the hell we are thinking. Obviously we need to "get there now". This need requires devices that present one of the biggest threats to our well-being. Yet at the same time, it would be difficult to give automobiles up now that we understand their benefits. Don't get me wrong- I love the convenience that cars afford me. There are plenty of places I would have never seen without them. I don't plan on giving mine up, so don't even ask me for it.
Most of the time I tend to take the reliability and capabilities of my vehicle for granted. Anyone that has owned a car for any significant length of time knows that this is a bad idea. We may bitch about living in a state that requires an annual inspection, but the truth is that it's a good idea for those of us that don't give proper consideration to the maintenance of our conveyances. Hell, I don't even get my oil changed as often as I should. I'm sure that there are a number of issues developing with my five-year old Hyundai that require looking into. No doubt I will become aware of those things when they reach the point that I can't possibly ignore them anymore. That's the nature of the beast, as far as I'm concerned.
I do a lot of highway driving in my long daily commute. This practice presents a specific set of problems that I am slowly coming to terms with. The first hurdle I experienced was learning how to properly regulate my speed. I accumulated something along the order of 20+ points during my first couple of years on the job. Once I got the hang of that, I had to confront the particular hazards that accompany chugging along at a moderately high speed. I try to pay specific attention to the condition of my tire treads. That's an obvious concern. I've also had to give some thought to the risks involved with having a cracked windshield. Following the big rigs results in kicked-up stones that can be devastating to reinforced glass.
This December I finally had my windshield replaced (at a cost of over $250). I did that because the pockmark that marred its surface over ten months ago expanded to a crack that spanned the entire width of the screen. Actually (to be quite honest with you) there were two fissures running in opposite directions. I still had full visibility, but there was no way it would have been certified legal. Yet for some reason, I experienced no imminent sense that it needed to be repaired expeditiously. Finally a friend convinced me that it would be a bad thing if the entire windshield shattered in my face at a high speed. I saw some logic in his note of caution. It was rational from a purely speculative viewpoint.
Today I experienced a different sort of issue that came on so quickly that it was impossible to ignore in the moment. The salt on the road surface was kicked up into my face by a tractor trailer. This wouldn't have been a serious issue had my fluid lines not been frozen. Instead I had a milky coating obscuring my vision, and I was moving at about 70 mph. My wipers were useless, and (if anything) simply compounded my difficulties. I concentrated on the lines demarcating my lane and followed the car lights ahead of me until I reached the next exit. Now this is a lesson I should have already absorbed- they make windshield wiper fluid that resists freezing. You'd think I would have already bought some, right? Driving IS exciting.