Driving

For me, one of the best rhyming words with “freedom” is probably the word “drive”. However,┬ábrowsing this article, you will understand that the rhyme is greatly impoverished by too strong presence of the word “patience”…

I could easily give you a small personal collection of cases that would deserve a little bit of my anger, but I want to focus today on a situation that affects my freedom of movement itself. This is actually a story that began twelve years ago already, when I celebrated my eighteenth birthday. Yes, the very one which, for most young adults, rhymes with big words like “freedom”, “travel”, “discovery” or “adventure”, to name a few. At this time, therefore, I dreamed of getting behind the wheel of a car and travel the roads of our beautiful country, and to speed up a little, to get out the wings, take off and go around the Moon before coming ba… DRIIIIIINNG! The alarm clock is always ringing in the middle of the most beautiful dreams! ­čÖü

However, as I have the habit of trying to achieve my dreams, I contacted THE Swiss specialist of car transformation for disabled people. His garage is in German Switzerland, 300 km from home, but having the chance to have family and friends, I found a way to go to meet the famous specialist. The interview went very well and I came back home full of hope. I then contacted the Automobile Service to inquire about the various administrative formalities. They asked me to undergo a medical examination with a doctor approved by the competent authorities, so it can determine if I was able to drive and, of course, to integrate into the traffic. This visit also went smoothly, since it only lasted ten minutes and ended with the same conclusion as the technician I met previously, namely: “Sir, you certainly suffer from a heavy physical disability, but from the moment your vehicle is suited to your abilities, driving is practiced with the head, and you have all the necessary skills.”

Everything is for the best in the best of worlds, you say!? Well, unfortunately not, because today I’m 30 years old, I have a pregnant wife, an apartment and a toothbrush, yes, but no car! To be precise, I should say that I bought a car five years ago, but she is dying in the parking lot of the aforementioned transformer, waiting to be adapted to my handicap. Oh sure, some small things, such as the automation of the side sliding door or the installation of a lift, have already been made, but I still do not drive!

Jenri-GMC_001

You’re probably wondering why this project has not yet achieved? In my view, much of the lost time is due to the fact that the technician gives priority to the simplest cases, and therefore more lucrative. The former geography student that I am, also like to think that not only a geographic barrier, but also a language one plays a role in this affair too… Now, in defense of the German Swiss specialist, which I really appreciate as a human being and with which I maintain very friendly relations since twelve years, I must say that things have evolved a bit lately. The technician has developed a steering device, which unfortunately proved too hard for the physical strength I have. Also, we had to face the fact that it required a system that demands less muscle power. We then considered a joystick control solution, which is already available in the USA and in Germany, but very expensive and probably not approved by the federal authorities before years… However, there is new hope since Fall 2002, with a much simpler system and therefore cheaper than the joystick. This is a small and highly reliable mechanical module that seems to fit exactly my needs. It remains to conduct tests, if the famous technician is willing to make the effort…

Finally, you will understand that I have no other choice but to defer to the good will of others, while keeping the minimum optimism and diplomacy that preserve me from the very fashionable “burnout”. However, I realized more than 60 times the displacement of 300 km to go to the Swiss and German specialist, and this, at my expense, and thanks to the kindness of those who accompanied me. This is a very important waste of time and money, not to mention the depreciation of my vehicle, the delay that takes my professional development or simple moments of everyday life that require the use of a car, moreover when public transport are inaccessible.

To be continued…

Jenri

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