Last Sunday we had a plausible mishap on the road. On our way to New Haven, the Jeep started self-accelerating and the brakes didn’t seem to work. Luckily there weren’t many cars on the road and we were on a slight positive gradient. With whatever little brake power left, I was able to reduce the speed to the sub 50s and tried using the rumble strips on the shoulder to further decelerate. I eventually got the vehicle to come to a rough halt with some gear shifts and a crude ignition stall. Just in time before a merge from the right!
A couple of calls to AAA and we were soon towed to a nearby Firestone. The garage was already busy with other cars and we were told we had to wait a couple of hours before they could even look at the issue. Soon after lunch, Meena and I were deliberating if we should tow the vehicle all the way back to Boston. With the garage closing at 5, we weren’t very optimistic that the folks here would be able to get to and resolve the issue over the next 3 hours. As we mentioned this to Bob, the chief mechanic; he said he was just about to have someone look at the car. We decide to give them a shot. They got the car into the shed and after about half an hour, Bob comes back saying they weren’t able to replicate the issue. However, he said they knew what could have possibly caused the mysterious acceleration. He mentioned it was highly likely the floor mat moved up during the drive, crumpled and entrapped the gas pedal leading to unintended acceleration. The brakes thus didn’t seem to work. I was hysterically pleased – both at the simple ‘fix’ and at the hundreds of dollars we’d saved by not towing the vehicle back home. We soon hit the road, and got rid of the floor mat.
On the way back home, we hit quite some traffic. It nevertheless gave me some mind space to think. There were quite a few ways the incidents earlier during the day could have transpired. Had there been more traffic on our way to New Haven, we possibly would be dealing with a couple of totaled cars and the ramifications that came with it. Had we rejected Bob’s offer, we quite possibly would have towed the car all the way back to Boston. Even better, Bob could have easily said something else was wrong with the car and made a quick buck out of the whole issue. Later on Sunday night, I learnt the ignition stall could possibly be a bad idea since it lets the vehicle essentially lose control. Evidently it worked fine this time around, possibly since I triggered it at around 20mph. And to think of it, a lot more could have gone wrong. The proverbial – ‘Everything happens for a reason’ is just not true. I believe the human brain does a wonderful job in assigning a reason to the cause and quite conveniently this is always subtly and retrospectively done. In its quest to find reason, it ends up triggering neural connections that emotionally and logically seem reasonable. So when and how do we draw the line while making choices and how do you substantiate the choices you’ve made? Or is the whole premise that as a logical and emotional machine you’re feeding good and bad data (choices) as a stimulus to train the body to better react to unforeseeable situations in the future?