Feature Writer Karen Crowder – A Car of Her Own Part 2

When Jan pressed the start button on that sunny, warm, July morning the female British voice did not sound clear with its clipped accent. The almost inaudible voice asked Jan’s next destination, mileage and speed. Slowly articulating each phrase she said, “Leominster mall. Nine miles. Thirty miles an hour.” She pressed the go button. There was dead silence. With shaking hands she grabbed the braille manual, reading the entry “When car fails to function.” “Immediately cancel commands when your car fails to start.” She did that, repeating the commands. She was relieved when the car purred to life.

Halfway to the mall the car began slowing to a crawl. The wobbly sounding female voice incessantly repeating, “Low battery needs charging, “An impatient driver yelled, “lady get off the road if you can’t drive!” “My battery needs charging,” she said, “do you know where the nearest charging station is?” “I have no idea,” he said driving away. “Where is the nearest charging station in Leominster?” She asked. “50 feet from your destination,” the increasingly dysfunctional voice replied. The car came to the charging station. After she plugged it in the car informed her that it would be charged in 60 minutes.

“After the morning you have had let’s go to that café you’ve been talking about,” James said. As they walked through the food court, he commented, “don’t those cinnamon rolls and coffee smell good?” “Yes that’s why I like this place,” she said. After ordering iced coffees and hot cinnamon rolls, they sat in a comfortable booth and began talking about the eventful morning.

“You did a great job,” he began. “You remained composed when the car gave you problems. You did an excellent job at solving them and educating those ignorant drivers,” he said. “I purposely under charged the car’s battery as part of your entrance test,” his calm gentle voice reassuring her. “I suspected that after looking at the manual,” she said. He paused, saying, “someone is getting our attention.”

“Oh hi Jan, it’s great to see you,” Jenn said. “This is a surprise, meet James my driving instructor,” Jan said. “I am glad to meet you,” Jenn said. “It’s nice to meet you Jenn,” James said “But we have to leave; this hour has flown by, the car is fully charged.” “Goodbye Jenn call you soon,” Jan said as they went towards the car.

It drove to her apartment on 544 Market Street. With his gentle smile, James said, “congratulations, you have passed the entrance test.” He handed her a certificate and conditional license. “I can’t believe it,” she said as he guided her hand to sign both the license and certificate to drive. “You are one of my best students, he said. “The next part of your instruction, is navigating larger cities. Next Friday you will be traveling to and from Marlborough. Until then, enjoy the experience of driving around Leominster and Fitchburg. Keep a journal of your trips. Send the documents to me. Keep your license and certificate with you. If police stop you, show them. They have the training center’s and my phone number.”

Standing there, she felt happy and liberated. Like her sighted friends, she could go anywhere and no longer had to depend on taxis or vans. “Have a great week, I’ll be looking forward to your emails,” James said. “See you Next Friday morning.” he said as he got into a taxi to go to his next lesson. “Have a great day,” she said, feeling a sense of contentment and peace about her new life.

Part 3 coming soon…

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