Friday, December 15, 2006

some girls get all the brakes!

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?

7 comments:

Music Woman said...

Oh Man!

1) To actually not test drive the car, especially when something as major as a adaptive unit is put in, is really stupid on their part....

2) To be so cold and heartless to two wonderful (Though I've never met you, but hope to someday, but heard so much about you) people who are clearly, by the fact that they have to have adaptive controls put into a car in the first place, having a hard time and merely trying to make life easier, with more freedom, is ridiculous!

I hope they can fit you in today (Saturday), to fix the problem. I can't imagine any mechanic doing such a thing! (Maybe they do all the time, and I just have a good mechanic?)

I hope things get better for you.... If I lived closer, I'd have my brother take a look at your car for you..... :-)

Music Woman

Kim said...

After thinking how irresponsible it was for them to release the car to you with non-working brakes, can I gently suggest that you should have refused to drive it.

Despite the hassle, took a cab home.

Kim said...

Who is the supervisor of the instructor, who overseees the mechanic? Raise heck.

Lisa and Robb said...

Unfortunately the brake malfunction didn't present a huge problem until we got on the highway. By then, we were fifty miles from home in an industrial area with no hope of a cab ride in sight.

The good news is: our case manager and adjuster stayed in the office late to make some angry phone calls on our behalf and got this situation under control. Next week, the car will be towed back up there and hopefully the issues will be resolved.

Lisa and Robb said...

Unfortunately the brake malfunction didn't present a huge problem until we got on the highway. By then, we were fifty miles from home in an industrial area with no hope of a cab ride in sight.

The good news is: our case manager and adjuster stayed in the office late to make some angry phone calls on our behalf and got this situation under control. Next week, the car will be towed back up there and hopefully the issues will be resolved.

Anonymous said...

Ah... welcome to road rage, non-descriminatory for handicapped or non-handicapped drivers.

It will all work out- when our car was loaded up with stuff AND wasnt working right, we drove with our flashers on, and everyone around us tried to be "helpful" and told us "Hey! Your flashers are on!" Well, just play slow classical music to keep your energy level at a relaxed mode while in traffic and it will help to keep the panic mode in control. You are absolutely right that you get this worked on as soon as possible, dont put it off and have it grow in aggravation.

We sent you guys a present. Stay home and eat it. It also tastes good in a car, or while waiting for auto repairs.

Annalisa and Gary

shiloh said...

This is one time I'm glad I don't llive near you. You would have been visiting me in jail for what I would have done to the business.

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