In a previous column, I mentioned keeping the hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel. A reader emailed to tell me I was out-of-date. You might think I’d be miffed, being called out-of-date, but I was not. I hear that from time to time.
As a matter of fact, our girls were recently talking about a get-together, determining who would bring chips.
‘What kind of chips?’ I asked. ‘You’ve got your barbecue, sour cream and onion, sea salt, original.’
One of them said, ‘No, not potato chips. Chips! You know, tortilla chips.’
‘That’s what you mean when you say chips?’
‘Yes, everybody eats tortilla chips with salsa today. Only old people think chips mean potato chips.’
Fire must have shot out of my ears as she quickly corrected herself, saying, ‘Not old. I meant old-er. You know.’
Oh, I know, darlin’. Trust me, I know.
‘Younger people associate potato chips with summer cookouts,’ she explained.
‘Is that right?’ I said, reaching into a bag of potato chips, noting the outdoor thermometer recording the temperature at 0 degrees F. ‘I feel so out-of-date not knowing the protocol for chips.’
In any case, I’m not only old-er when it comes to understanding chips, it turns out I’m also old-er on where your hands go on the steering wheel.
You are no longer to grip a steering wheel at the 10 and 2 o’clock position as on a clock, but at 8 and 4, or 9 and 3. And never while eating from a bag of chips.
The standard of 10 and 2 was before power steering. And yes, I’m old-er enough that I once drove an old car without power steering. Of course, I also walked to school — uphill both ways.
In order to turn left you had to pull the wheel left with all your might and hold onto it for dear life, terrified it would snap back in the direction it came from and snap you right along with it.
With the advent of power steering, turning the steering wheel became much easier.
With the advent of air bags, which deploy at 150-200 mph, holding the steering wheel became much more dangerous.
If an airbag inflates with your hands at 10 and 2, your arms and hands can be blown into your face, where they can be broken, maimed or even require amputation. At 8 and 4, or 9 and 3, they blow out to the sides and make you less susceptible to injury.
So, please disregard what I said about 10 and 2 and place your hands in the newer, safer parallel positions.
Seeing to the safety of my own children, I asked our youngest where the hands belong on the steering wheel.
‘Ten and 2,’ she answered.
‘Oh, darlin’. You might want to sit down for what I’m about to tell you. You are, well, Sweetie, you are out-of-date.’
Here, have a potato chip.
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