Do you remember when you first learned to drive? Nothing came automatically. For me, I was so frustrated that my instructor wanted me to operate the pedals and steering wheel, check the mirrors, and use the turn signal at the same time. It was so hard!

Of course, as time goes on, we become much more adept at driving. The reason is that we develop a sort of autopilot: we build a subconscious mental model to interpret all the data that comes in through our eyes and to respond to it. Me, I can drive all the way across town to work and have little recollection of the journey—my mind simply drifts off in some other direction. Of course, when something out of the ordinary happens, we often aren’t prepared to deal with it. Our mental model is incapable of handling such an event.

Broken windowSo when my driver’s side window exploded this afternoon, I’m sure you can understand what a shock it was to me.

One moment, I was cruising down a busy US-52 lightly powdered with the morning’s snow. The next moment, a geyser of glass shards was raining down on me as my entire window spontaneously shattered inward. My theory is that somehow the heating and cooling of the glass caused it to break…but why today—when it was relatively warm out—I do not know. There didn’t seem to be any kids around to chuck rocks at my window. Though if there were kids around, who could blame them for aiming at me?

Glass shardsAnyway, this unfortunate incident took place while I was slowing to a stop at the SR-25 intersection, on the way home from church. I had less than a minute to ponder my predicament before traffic began moving again. And as my car accelerated, the large, dagger-like protrusions of glass left behind in the window began to rattle, shedding small, sharp crystals into my lap. As my brain struggled to resurface from its autopilot, I began to realize that this was a bad situation. So as I continued past Duncan Road and the Wabash River bridge, I drove with my right hand and yanked giant chunks of glass out of my driver’s side window frame with my left hand, while Sandra McCracken serenaded me from my car stereo. With my leather glove protecting my hand from cuts, yet with my mind at a loss for how to respond to this disaster, I tossed the glass onto the floor at my feet and drove home, bewildered.

16-cent WindfallThankfully, Cheeseborger owns a shop vac. After today, I believe that everyone should own a shop vac for just such an occasion as this. So I suppose that if one were to look for a silver lining to this cloud, he would find two such linings: I finally vacuumed out my car, and I found 16¢ hidden under the driver’s side seat. Score! I’m putting this windfall toward the purchase of a new window.