How I Learned to Drive Like My Grandmother


by Justin Travers

“You never know what you really have until you’ve lost it.”

“When I get weary, and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings, instead of sheep.”

“Savor the moment.”

These are such trite, hackneyed expressions. The only problem with them, of course, is that they’re true!

And how do I know this? Well, I broke my hand. All this from a broken hand? How pathetic.

So why did this affect me so much? Well, it was my right hand. And breaking your right hand is like, well, temporarily losing your right hand! And, of course, I’m a guy. And we all know that guys are more sensitive. (Women will say that men are babies and just complain more. That’s not true! We hurt more.)

So, I was driving and slowed down and edged up into the long line of traffic at the light. I must have been driving – no exaggeration – 10 miles per hour! I looked out the window to my left. At that moment, BAM!, and a big jolt. What happened? I crashed into the guy in front of me. He stopped precipitously. Turns out he had crashed into the car in front of him, who also stopped precipitously.

I did everything right! Should I not have looked away? Should I have had both hands on the steering wheel at all times? Should I have counted to make sure that I was three seconds behind the car in front of me at all times – like the driving manual says? That’s stupid. That’s impossible. That would be driving like my grandmother, for goodness sake! We make fun of the way my grandmother drives!

Yeah, that’s what they say – one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three onethousand. And if you didn’t do that, and if you crash the car in front of you, well, that means you are behind the care that was in front of you, and the fault goes to the guy who runs into you from behind. We all KNOW that’s stupid. How the heck are you going to stop when the guy in front of you slams on his breaks? Oh yeah… one one-thousand, two…

Okay, fine. So maybe I SHOULD drive like my grandmother. She has two hands on the wheel at all times. She looks straight in front of her at all times. Nobody can talk to her when she’s driving, “because I have to concentrate”. She drives the speed limit. It’s annoying. But she wouldn’t have gotten into that accident. Oh, no!

(It was the fault of the guy in front of me.)

So, $5000 damage to my car. A $500 deductable. A broken hand. So, now I’m driving like my grandmother.

Did I mention that I broke my hand? I must admit that it didn’t hurt all that much. (That didn’t stop me from complaining. After all, I broke my hand!) But it was my right hand. The hand I use to brush my teeth. To eat. To shift my manual transmission. To open a bottle of ibuprofen. And most important – to type on my keyboard.

The emergency room fixed me up with a splint. Elevate your arm. No typing. I went out and I purchased Dragon voice-recognition software. You can do ANYTHING with that software. Just go to Dragon’s website and see! Watch the lady write a 10-minute letter in less than one minute by simply talking into her computer. Now this is fascinating, good stuff!

Except, of course, you have to learn to use the thing. They don’t tell you how steep the learning curve is. What’s more, if you are a writer who composes on the keyboard (like I am), you will soon find that writing by talking is not the same as writing by keystroke. It seems as if it would be easy – just say what you want to write! But after you are accustomed to typing out your thoughts, it’s hard to go back to talking them out. The keyboard helps you type in ways that we’re not even aware of – until we lose our keyboard.

“You never know what you really have until you’ve lost it.” (Oh, shut up.)

The doctor said, “You can have a cast for six weeks, or you can have an operation and use a splint for six weeks.”

“An operation? What? Go under the knife? Put pins in my hand? Are you crazy?”

“If you have the operation, you will be able to use your keyboard.”

“Do you have a slot open next Tuesday?”

Until the operation, I was debilitated. I couldn’t use my right hand. I couldn’t do my work! And it was only my hand! It’s not as though I suffered some great catastrophe! Try brushing your teeth with your left hand. Go ahead – try! Do you know how embarrassing it is to ask some guy to fish out the quarter from your right pants pocket because you can’t reach it with your left and it hurts too much to use your right one?

I’ve had my operation, and I am using my splint. Now, I go to sleep counting my blessings. I start with my right hand. And I drive like my grandmother.