Wednesdays are usually pretty annoying, but the annoyances tend to be predictable, considering that about a third of a week's work tends to show up on Wednesday. (Our clients, and our customers, are sometimes painfully predictable.) It did not help that on this Wednesday, the guy who does the heavy lifting in the department came down with something he deemed emergency-room material. But by then, I'd already had my fun for the day.

Okay, "fun" isn't the word. I'm eastbound on the Northwest Distressway on the morning commute, a light has just gone from green to yellow, and I'm just barely below the speed limit. I prepare to hit the brakes.

And they aren't there.

Not quite panic mode. I'm in the left lane; there's more room to my right, so I steer toward the center. Brakes still aren't responding. I made it to the right edge of the pavement right at the beginning of the intersection, climbed a couple inches of curb, and got off the Distressway entirely.

The brakes, of course, are fine. There was only one conclusion I could reach: the nerve damage that's been afflicting me over the last year or so decided to manifest itself as complete and utter disconnection: neither right foot nor left was able to modulate that brake pedal. It passed as quickly as it came, but at that speed I covered about 100 yards, most of it at the worst possible angle for oncoming traffic. Fortunately, this was early enough in the morning that oncoming traffic was close to the daily minimum; so far as I could tell, I heard not a single brake screech, nor a horn sounded in anger. I drove back to my house without incident, found no system failures, not so much as a bent rim, and began the trip again. Not quite 11 miles, a touch under 20 minutes, just about usual. "Fluke," I said sort of determinedly.

Maybe that's what it was: just a fluke. I've had incidents when I'd misjudged the brake pressure and started creeping into the intersection, though I apparently haven't caused any damage. Still, there's only so much luck to go around, and inevitably I find myself wondering if I haven't pushed mine. Or maybe it was a product of lingering insomnia: Tuesday night, I managed to fall asleep about an hour and a half later than usual. Narcolepsy? I took a fifteen-minute nap out of nowhere while typing this very screed and listening to Dodgers/Cardinals on trusty AM radio. (My brace of 20-year-old Cambridge Soundworks Model 88 radios, breathed upon by the great Henry Kloss himself, probably sound better on AM than most receivers do on FM.) Heaven help us if I start taking naps out of nowhere on the Northwest Distressway.

The Vent

  1 June 2017

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