I’ve been driving for a very long time, but I’m still learning new things. By studying other drivers, I’ve learned the proper way to make a right turn on red, how to text and drive, how to be courteous to other drivers, and how to eat pretty much anything while driving. I’ve studied all the controls in my car and my truck and many of them are the same. Even when I think I know what something does, I can still be amazed to find out it can also do something else.
There’s a skinny little lever on the left side of the steering column that make the lights blink. If I push it down, it makes a little green arrow pointing to the left, blink. If I push the lever up, a green arrow pointing to the right blinks. Once when I was playing around with the lever while parked in front of a shop window, I noticed that in addition to the little green lights on my dash blinking, it also made an amber light on the front of the car blink. I turned the car around to see the reflection of the back of my car in the shop window, and sure enough. . . BAM! A red light on the back of the car blinks too.
This feature on its own turned out to be amazingly useful. For years, I’ve used this lever to communicate my intentions to other drivers. When I wanted to turn left, I’d push the lever down and the lights on the left side would tell them what I was going to do. But, there’s more to it. I just learned today, that the lever has magical powers. Repeatedly during my drive today, I noticed drivers near my car—in fact very near to my car—used the lever to create a space for their car. It’s so simple!
I noticed the driver of the Honda Accord to my right reach for the magic lever and push it downward. Even though there was no space for the Accord in front of me, somehow, the lever created space, and the Accord appeared directly in front of me. I felt the gravitational forces on my face as the Accord slid in front of me. The effect was so strong that it caused a bag to slide off my seat, and my coffee to slosh against the lid. The seat belt anticipated the gravitational disturbance and tightened against my shoulder. And then the red light blinked.
It happened again with a GMC Yukon, and then again with a BMW 530, and again with an F-250 filled with plumbing supplies. Damn! All this time, I’ve been doing it wrong. When I’ve been on the right trying to get into the left lane, I’ve used the lever to make the lights blink. Sadly, nothing seemed to ever happen. They’d just blink, and blink, and blink, and no space would open up that my car would fit into. It seemed that the longer the lights blinked, the more the other cars would close up any space that even came close to the size of my car. But now I know.
Tonight on my way home from work, I tried the new trick. I pushed the lever down, and before the little green arrow even lit up, I cut the wheel to the left, and my car was magically inserted into the left lane. At that moment, I learned that this maneuver also causes headlights to flash, and sometimes horns to sound, which I think signifies a successful lane change. So I tried it again, and again. It worked every time! Many of the drivers waved their hands, cheering me on. It was SO invigorating. I can’t wait for the drive to work in the morning.
Drive safely, my friends.