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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Driver Said "Uh Oh"

This is Steven Petrick posting.

On our recent trip I did most of the driving, which is fine as I like to drive and considered doing so much of the vacation for me.

As we were heading back out of Colorado, the road we were on was a dual divided highway and pretty much an interstate. Except that some of the small towns it passed through had actually erected stop lights. While the speed was posted at 75 MPH for most of the route, it would slow when you passed through (in some cases, beside as the town was entirely on one side of the roadway) these towns.

At one point in the drive SVC heard me say "uh oh." I did not say anything else after that, but SVC eventually concluded that I had said it because something was wrong. I did not get much more animated about things, and we simply kept driving.

The problem was that I had moved my left leg. How was this a problem? In this particular case, somehow the floor mat had adhered to the bottom of my boot, and moving my boot resulted in the floor mat coming up and curling around over the brake pedal. The "uh oh" was caused by the realization that I now had no brakes, the foot/parking/emergency brake being on the floor adjacent to the brake pedal, and thus also blocked by the mat. Having already gone the other direction on this road, I was aware that somewhere ahead was one of those towns I mentioned with a traffic light.

I did not want to upset the other occupants of the vehicle. This only because if I told them what was going on, there was nothing they could do about it. They were already all buckled up if something else went wrong, and even if they got unbuckled to move about the cabin, none of them could have reached down where my legs were to try to clear the problem. If one of them could have done something to clear the obstruction sooner, I certainly would have asked, but that was simply not possible.

I could drop out of cruise control and shift into neutral and drift to a stop, but there was other traffic.

So, having identified the problem, I continued driving (even though Jean, at least, was wondering what was going on because she had heard the "uh oh," and SVC was doing his best to disabuse her of any concept that there was any real problem). As I did so, my feet were desperately working on trying to get the floor mat out of the way.

We continued this way for perhaps a minute, although to me it seemed a much, much longer interval, as in about five or so minutes. I doubt we even covered an entire mile during the interval (even if we were going 75 miles an hour and thus were covering more than a mile in less than a minute). Finally the mat laid back down in its proper place, and I concealed a sigh of relief.

Things might have happened. A vehicle in front of us hitting its own brakes for some reason or other. Absolute disaster was possible. In the end, the driver had a few seconds of "excitement," but nothing happened and most of those present were simply left with a mystery of why the driver said "uh oh."