Funny thing about writing. There is a distinct ‘use it or lose it’ quality to the endeavor. And in this case having not used it for several days…indeed, what can one say?

I can say that Jane has just maneuvered the driver’s seat out of the van. This enables my wheelchair to take its place, and me to take my place among the ranks of California drivers. But what really enables my driving these days is the cessation of hostilities with the van’s controls. There’s been a problem with the hyper-power steering. The latter is designed to make quadriplegic wheel turning more then easy…in fact, almost effortless. And it works, this system. I have no complaints. However, it does, the system.

It squeals. No, it shrieks. Whenever I turn the wheel hard to the right or left…or even turn on the ignition sometimes…an alarm goes off. It persists, this alarm. There is no way to stop it. Except to stop driving.

Repair for my specialized type of van is hard to come by. Still, Jane and I did get the thing to a mechanic recently. What’s wrong? The maddening reality is that the alarm warns of failure in the steering emergency backup. That is to say, if there is massive engine failure, a pump should come to life and save the quadriplegic driver from himself. The steering system should return to life just long enough to the car off the motorway, for example.

Anyway, the little pump that makes all this possible was leaking. The alarm was sounding. And all to let me know that a safety system I really don’t need might, or might not, be compromised.

Jane and I agreed that anything, including any expense, would be worth it to get this horrible sound in our past. Naturally, the van needs to be torn apart, the fender pulled off, the whole thing in the shop for a couple of days. But anything to stop hearing the crack of doom in the midst of an otherwise pleasant drive.

Disabled driving adaptations amount to a series of improvisations. Someone decides what the driver will need, orders gadgets one by one, then installs them. It develops that installing this steering system four years ago required that part of the van be shipped to New Jersey. A dire move in any case. The problem comes when one has to repair this hodgepodge. But the screaming alarm was much more of a torture. Anything but that.

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