Driving with No Hands: The Backstory

There were many obstacles to getting on the way to Bethesda, Maryland for a consultation with the National Cancer Institute about potential clinical trials. First, Laura’s two ingrown toenails had to be cut that morning;  then, I tried and failed to get the flat tire on the CRV fixed before we had to leave to get to NCI on time.  The most dangerous threat to reaching NCI was a near collision on I-95 in Maryland when some idiot came into the third lane where we were traveling at 70 mph in the driving rain.

The return trip was as windy and rainy as the drive down. I had taken I-95 through Philadelphia on that leg of the trip. On the return I wanted to avoid Philadelphia at rush hour. Even in the best of weather, the Delaware Memorial Bridge challenges my fear of heights. Because I had not been able to get the flat tire fixed on the CRV, we were driving the smaller, lighter, older Accord. As I started up the bridge, I could feel the rain pounding the car in one direction while gusts of wind pushed in the other. Instinctively I held the steering wheel tighter and tighter. As scared as I was, this was the first time I realized that there was no correlation between how tightly I held on to the steering wheel and how well the car’s tires stayed in their lane. I relaxed my grip a little. Not too much because I was still frightened by visions of the wind carrying us off the side of the bridge or into the path of the 18-wheeler in the next lane. I confronted the realities of those unlikely events and could release my grip a bit more. Still clenched in my gut, I succeeded in getting over the bridge without a crash—mental or physical. Laura slept next to me through most of the crossing.

 

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