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February 7, 2018: Putting on the Parking Brakes

There are literal parking brakes, those in cars that you press and they stop. Bicycles have them too. And there are figurative parking brakes, which are when one calls a halt to an activity for one reason or another. For example, I stop cleaning the horse pen when it gets too windy. Another example, the brain puts on the brakes when a person is hurt. This is protective mechanism. This is why we develop non-habitual movement patterns.

I have been thinking a lot lately about literal and figurative parking brakes. Today even more so, because of what happened yesterday.

The brakes in my Suzuki Swift have been going for some time. They first began making a crunching sound when I applied pressure to the pedal. The crunching sound gradually grew louder. Then I began losing pressure. I dealt with this by pressing lightly and repeatedly on the pedal. I also became adept at rolling to stops at stoplights and before turns. I told Pete about this – he was aware that there was a problem but he’s been so busy that replacing them or finding someone to replace them has not been a priority.

Yesterday, the brakes grew deafening loud on my way to school. However, they still worked, that is until I attempted to pull out of the animal feed store parking lot. The downhill driveway leads to the base of the Palmer Wasilla Highway, a very busy thoroughfare. There is no stop light at this driveway. One stops and waits for a break in traffic before turning left or right.

I drove down the hill and put on the brakes. I pressed on the pedal and my foot went to the floor. And the car kept rolling. I looked to the left and saw a long line of headlights (it was overcast). I immediately put the car into reverse and backed up the hill, in what was the wrong lane. Seconds later I heard the horns of the passing cars.

I sat in the car for a bit, wondering what to do. Pete was teaching, and besides, we would not be able to leave the car in the parking lot. I could see the highway traffic. I waited until there was no traffic, drove out into the roadway and made a left turn. All the lights going to town were green. I made it to the Vagabond Blues parking lot, got out, and went around posting fliers for the Animal Communication clinic. I saw my friend Betty in the parking lot. She was on an errand of mercy; going to do a shut in’s hair. I told her what had happened, hoping that she’d know of someone who might be able to give me a lift. Alas, my plight did not seem to register with her.

So I chanced it. I had to get through one stop sign, two red lights, and make one major turn. The drive home felt like the proverbial bad dream in which one discovers they can’t stop their vehicle. The difference was, this was very real. I got lucky. Traffic at 2 p.m. was minimal. I was therefore able to go very slowly, through the danger points.

I made it home just fine – our driveway is icy, so I slid backwards, turned at the base of the road, then attempted to go up it again. I made it, parked the death-mobile, got out, and went to feed the horses.

Pete came home and I told him what happened. He said that we will either need to replace the brakes or get me a new vehicle. I cast my one vote for new brakes. I would rather wait and save up to buy a decent vehicle. I do not want what we can now afford, a junker.

I had an interview to do today, but quite obviously I did not have access to a safe vehicle. So I instead rode Tinni and Raudi, and took Tyra out on the trail. She ran alongside my fat tire(d)! bicycle, which has very good brakes. Being around here did give me time to think about my predicament. Down the road, at the Rafter T place – the yard is full of trucks and cars. This guy comes and works on them late at night. For some time, I have had my eye on a box truck in the yard that says Roto Rooter on the side. Maybe a job cleaning storm drains would go hand-in-hand with the vehicle. I am not going to get my hopes up – I suspect that this vehicle is lacking an engine and this would be a real drawback. But then again, I would be safe. I could sit in my vehicle and not have to worry about the brakes failing. I actually really like this idea. I just need to convince Pete that is plausible.

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