By on November 28, 2009

hands on the tiller

I know Ed isn’t a big fan of goofy pictures like this, but he’s up on Mt. Hood skiing in fresh powder and I’m here feeding the hungry monster. This photo just speaks to me very deeply; directly to my subconscious, actually. So I’ll try to do it justice with some profound analysis:

Having once been a city bus driver, this picture gives me a severe case of the willies. I have had a recurring nightmare for decades of driving a bus or other some other vehicle, and the steering wheel comes off in my hands at the hub. Paging Carl Jung! Am I the only one, or is it just the driver’s proto-fear? At least the driver in this picture still has the spokes, because in my dream I’m frantically grabbing the splined hub with my bare hands.And his modern bus undoubtedly has power steering. The big old GMCs I drove didn’t, if you can believe that. Maybe modern drivers don’t have the dream anymore for that reason alone.

If analyzing my deepest subconscious fears is not your thing, there’s also some historical context here. In the earliest days of the automobile, the steering wheel hadn’t been yet invented (or at least in common use). Various tillers, single and double handed were used, like on Henry Ford’s 999 racer.

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15 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Dream Analysis Edition...”


  • avatar

    Oh when I was a kid in the ’60’s in KY, there was another family I wished I belonged to, the Furnishes.  Both Mom and Dad were MDs and they had 4-5-6 kids in this enormous 3 story house with a handmade slot car track tacking up half the basement and a gnormous HO train layout taking up all of the attic and they had a Chevy Suburban (in the 50s!) and went on trips with the whole family across the Trans-Canada to Alaska with it and when I was in High school, the eldest son had a frog-eyed A/H Sprite (with a Judson supercharger) and he put in a walnut dash and while he was working on that he had the steering wheel off and was driving around with a Vise-Grips clamped on the splines. Way cool.  Maybe Paul, you need to equip your dream avatar with some Vise Grips….they solve a lot of problems.

  • avatar

    Well,  he still has pants.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Servus Paul, Your bête noire is well-founded.  Steering wheel hub separation is neither an abstraction, nor rare occurrence, to wit (this not being all inclusive):
    1.  1992/3 Chrysler minivans, 493k;
    2. 1992 Plymouth Sundance, 675k;
    3. 1992 Isuzu Impulse, ?k;
    4.  There was another recent recall for this issue but I don’t presently find it.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    My cousin had a 1950 Chevy Fleetline in which the wheel came off at the spline.  Typical teenager, he chose to not fix it but rather drove the car and occasionally pulled the wheel off and handed it to an unsuspecting passenger, asking them if they wanted to drive.  (That was especially effective with bossy girlfriends).

  • avatar
    Demetri

    I have similar dreams, except in mine, I’m not strong enough to turn the wheel.  In others, I don’t have the strength to depress the brakes/clutch.

  • avatar
    1600 MKII

    I’m sorry – but you guys just gave me the creeps…”-(

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    Paul, here is a cure for your particular case of the willies. Have the sound turned up, and don’t be eating or drinking anything while you watch it.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Excellent!

    • 0 avatar
      tpandw

      Great video.  My rather odd uncle had a Saab back in the early ’60’s with two steering wheels, two sets of accelerators, brake pedals, etc.  The idea was when he got tired of driving my aunt could just take over without even a pause.  What makes it more fascinating is that she didn’t like to drive, from either the left or the right side of the front seat.  I’m pleased to report that he was no blood relative–he married my mother’s sister.

  • avatar
    ChristyGarwood (of GM)

    From Stewart Dean’s stream of consciouness post to Daniel Stern’s we finally agree on humor posts, and well, Paul, your reference to Jung and adult children away for the holidays…  I am smiling.

    Jung – better to dream about steering wheels coming off than counting Obama votes in your dreams like my shrink hubby, eh?

    Faulkner stream of my conscience – I remember being 15 and riding in a bus to NYC and DC and then 20 and riding to a ski ‘mountain’ in Ohio and the turkey is ready but wait someone has to carve, go Bob, what about the trip to Mardi Gras in NOLA, a bus trip to the airport, flying, bus to Bourbon Street, no ex on the bus or flight back but I digress…

    And finally, Daniel, the utoob video is hilarious and better than the punch line I learned when I was 13, “Quick Mom, turn on your headlights, Dad’s snake is in your grass!”   (I am remembering a headlamp post…  )

    I am on vacation, transparently.  Oh yeah, the son who thinks he is an adult went back to college on Saturday – to see the GF.  Fine with me.

  • avatar
    Jseis

    Well, that happened to my Case tractor as I was backing up with a loaded bucket. Jumped out, grabbed the Vicesrips from behind the seat, clamped them to the steering shaft and I sailed on with a tiller handle. Then I bought a second set of Vicegrips to even out the load..so to speal.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    I worried our neighbors one day. Had removed the steering wheel to replace the wiper stalk. To ensure that it went back on straight I drove the car down on the street and drove a few houses down to establish what “straight” was. As I was pulling the wheel off to adjust it’s position the neighbor drove by. They thought my car was failling apart…
    Yeah – I should have marked the position with a chisel or paint mark.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Oh come on – give the guy a break. if you were used to riding a bike and it was the first time driving a Bus you would want to make it as familiar  as possible  wouldn’t you?

  • avatar
    rpol35

    When I was a college student, I sold my ’65 Malibu to another student that I had known for years. Shortly after the sale, the new owner’s brother was making a turn in the ‘Bu on to a narrow Rodgers Forge Street (Paul will know what that means) when the steering wheel came off in his hands. I thought he was going to brain me with it the next time I saw him. 

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