Sunday, May 11, 2014

On Cars, Feet, And Life

I love expensive cars.

Let me qualify that. I love expensive cars which are driver-friendly. I'm not the wealthiest guy around, but I've been in some swanky automobiles which redefine ergonomic convenience and comfort. From the heated seats of the Lexus to the steering response of the Porsche 911, cars with price tags which could keep my bills paid for a decade have occasioned my life with grace, quality, and style.

Most recently, I was given an opportunity to drive a rather stately Jaguar. The four-passenger sedan definitely has the "come hither" look reminiscent of that forty year old woman I worked alongside with when I was twenty-six. The coach, much like its "cougar" counterpart, exudes aplomb.

That's why my mother and her good friend Marvin were taken aback the other evening when I screamed while getting behind the wheel. First of all, let me say that it's an honor to drive a car like that. So few Jaguar models of this caliber are to be found anywhere. What might have been mistaken by some as shouts of ecstasy turned out to be my response to my ankle twisting as I attempted to place my right leg first under the narrow gap between the steering column and the seat, and then my foot on the gas pedal. The popping sound coming from somewhere inside of my shoe indicated that I was doing it incorrectly.

While that experience didn't make me happy, it did make me think. I wonder where one goes in order to learn how to enter such luxury cars? Apparently, one doesn't simply park the ol' Buick and hop on over. One first endures flexibility exercises best performed by British Special Air Services. When one has finally mastered the flexibility of Lazaro Gitu, he then attends a four year training program at Jaguar, in which he masters coursework on proper under-the-driver's-seat vehicular entry; during this program he attends both classrooms and laboratories, the latter reproducing real-life types of situations. Learning not to use the parking brake as a support handle is a lesson commonly overcome by freshmen.

It is only when one has attained mastery of basic entry and exit that he's scheduled for debriefing. It's here that he learns of the steering column's tilting abilities. Once informed, he is subjected to both oral and written exams, enrolled in a two week ergonomic survival course, and issued certification as a person who's fully capable of driving such a car.

I wasn't privy to that.

I had to learn hard way.

Being a big guy at over six feet and weighing approximately the same as Boulder, Colorado, I discovered that one can scream one's way both into and out of a Jaguar, though that can be off-putting to one's family. If kiaps are excellent for directing energy to moving physical objects, they're even better at freezing loved ones right in their tracks. "What's wrong, honey?" issued from the back seat as my mom possibly wondered whether or not I had caused grievous injury to myself before I could even sit in the seat. I explained, amidst frustration that I was sure my foot wasn't broken while Marvin taught me how to adjust the seat in order to counteract the low-slung steering column which, as it turned out, tilts upward at the command of a secret button known only to Marvin, Jaguar, and the NSA.

But learning curves -even those which are admittedly as platykurtic as mine- do occur in such situations. The next time I'm anywhere near a Jag, I'm going to speak authoritatively to a hopefully enraptured audience about the ins and outs, so to speak, of Jaguar drivers' compartments.

I'll be sure to include a few catty remarks.

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