Wednesday Word: Expectations

The emergency brake on my wife's car is a step brake. That is, you step on it with your left foot to set the brake, and you step on it to release it. The emergency brake in my car is a hand brake that rests between the driver and passenger seat. I would say that almost every car I've ever driven has had a hand brake, while very few have had a foot brake. This experience has shaped my reality.

At the end of June, Joelene and I are taking several members of the J2A on a mission trip to the Oregon coast. While there they will visit a few churches, meet with some of the vestries, help to clean up the beach, and experience a part of the country they have never seen. At least two of them have never been on a plane. We will be leaving very early on Monday, June 28, and returning very early on Sunday, July 4. Because of the very early departure and arrival, I will be driving everyone to and from BWI in the church van. Since I've never driven the van before, I needed to take a driving test with Charlie Chaney supervising.

He showed me how the side door worked, and how to lower the steps and re-secure them. I found where the wipers and lights were, checked the mirrors, located the registration and insurance cards, saw there was a step brake, and generally familiarized myself with the van.

I put my sunglasses on, started it up, stepped on the emergency brake, and off we went. I decided to head down National Pike/Dual Hwy to I-70, over to I-81 to Exit 6, and back to the church. That would give me some practice in both city and highway driving.

Just about the time we got to Aldi's, I noticed a red light on the dashboard. Red lights on dashboards are generally not good. So I took off my sunglasses for a better look, expecting it to say, “Check Engine.” Instead it said, “Brake On.” So I stepped on the brake again. It only went further down. I stepped on it harder. It went to the floor and stayed. The lights at both Tracy Lane and Eastern Blvd were green, and traffic was tight so I couldn't move over. Traffic thinned after Eastern, I found a space between cars, moved into the right lane and then over to the parking strip where I stopped and parked. Looking down to see why the brake wasn't releasing, I found a handle labeled, “BRAKE RELEASE.”

My experience of past parking brakes didn't let me see the reality of the current situation.

Which got me thinking . . . as we come out of the COVID pandemic, I hope that how we experienced the past won't cloud our vision and blind us to the reality of new situations. Let's make sure we see the whole picture before driving off like nothing has changed.



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