Oh, any number of topics have sprung to mind while I’ve been driving: grumbling about GM’s industrial design choices, the quality of local roads, the easily-eroded border between routine and chaos…
And these come together, roughly, when I hit a pothole.
The asphalt mix around here is optimized for milder winters, and the unusual combinations of hard freezes, thaws, and precipitation types have combined to create some truly impressive divots/ruts/axle-breakers.
I say ‘axle-breakers’, but I am not fearing for my car’s axles. I’m thinking of my Saturn’s ignition cylinder, that inconvenient little part that cost just enough to make GM opt for inaction, prioritizing their bottom line over the lives of drivers, passengers, and innocent bystanders.
For many people, the idea that a bump in the road could disable ones car is conveniently abstract. They’ve hit bumps before while driving their cars, and are none the worse for wear. They might think removing their keyfobs and other janglies from their ignition keys to be overkill.
Not so with me. I haven’t lost a loved one to this engineering fiasco, but I did once clip a curb on a rough patch of road one night when coming up off a highway… and my Ion went dead. An unfamiliar light flashed on the dash as everything went out, my brakes and steering were “gone”…. and I was heading straight towards a corner gas station.
Thank heaven no one else was in the area at the time. Thank heaven I’ve driven cars without power steering, and know that stomping down on the brakes is better than doing nothing. I wrenched the wheel as hard as I could and came to a stop in the lane between the pumps, rather than through one of the pumps.
I turned the car off and sat in the darkness for a while.