Today was the day for us to pick up our freshly adapted car, and for Robb to have another session with his driving instructor. We had been looking forward to a new kind of freedom for Robb, but instead things went awry.
First, we realized that the handle that controls the gas and brake pedals is nowhere near the turn signal lever. In this configuration, Robb would have to take his hand off the controls in order to signal. The photo on the left shows my hand on the controls, and if you follow the line of my index finger, you'll see that it is nowhere near the turn signal lever.
We pointed this out to the mechanic, and he seemed remarkably nonplussed, and basically blew off our concerns.
While Robb was having his driving lesson, I sat in our car, and knitted and stewed and mentally re-designed the hand controls. Finally, I went into the offices and laid out my concerns. I had the woman in the office come out to the car and showed her the problem. I drew her a picture of how we could get the controls to function (change the shape of the handle so that it dog-legs up toward the turn signals). She was unimpressed. In no uncertain terms, she told me that what they installed was the recommended gear for our model car, and that furthermore, any adaptation would nullify the warranty.
All this gave me a lot to think about. I realized one more reason that I'm going straight to hell. I recall thinking uncharitable thoughts, in the past, about bad driving on the part of people with handicapped tags, but it never occurred to me that the problem might have been not with the drivers, but rather with their shoddy adaptive gear.
After Robb's driving lesson, his instructor took another look at our gear, and noticed a far more serious problem. The devices that have been bolted onto our foot pedals do not allow the brake to "spring up" once it has been depressed. Of course, by the time she noted this, the mechanic had gone home for the weekend, and I was stuck driving home in Friday Bay Area Highway Rush Hour with a car with dangerously defective brakes.
I eventually figured out that I could use the hand controls to manually pull the brake pedal back up from the floor. Getting home was scary. The best analogy I can make was that driving home was like driving in a blizzard: dangerous and nerve wracking. I'm actually happy that the traffic was very slow. Every time I "tapped" the brake, I had to make an effort to wrench the pedal back up from the floor. And, of course, I wasn't used to reaching for the hand control lever, so I suspect I kept flashing my high beams at the drivers in front of me, and pissing off the ones behind me.
Even when we got home, and I parked the car in our garage, I had to manually raise the brake pedal after I turned off the engine, because my brake lights were stuck "on."
I just have to wonder. Is it, or is it not, standard practice for these particular mechanics to test drive their cars before they hand them over to paralyzed drivers?