Tales of Traveling With The Airbag Light On
by Crystal Wergin
anyone happened to see a tan Pontiac Montana minivan driving
down the road all by itself recently, that was me.
I was behind the wheel but you just couldn't see me because
I was driving with my seat pushed as far back in the reclining
position as far as it would go.
all started last week when my husband told me that the airbag
light had come on in his van and stayed on.
have to take it in," he said, knowing full well that "we"
wouldn't be doing anything of the sort, but that "we"
translated into "you," which meant "I" would
be taking it in.
next morning he handed me the keys to his minivan, climbed into
my car, and just before pulling out of the driveway said,"Yeah,
a friend of mine said it's a good thing we're taking it right
in because that bag could go off at any time. Bye hon."
gee, did that friend happen to have any idea as to the probability
of that happening while "we" are driving down the
freeway at 65 miles per hour en route to the dealership?
After pondering for a moment, there was only one scenario I
could envision when an airbag deploying unexpectedly would probably
not get you killed, and that was a head-on collision.
the way I saw it, if the airbag deployed at any other time while
you were driving, it would more than likely scare you so bad
it would cause you to lose control, sending you careening into
oncoming traffic, causing a collision which, come to
think of it, would kill you because you'd used your airbag
two seconds earlier.
were not looking forward to the drive to the dealership. Transporting
plutonium seemed like a safer bet.
the dealership was located just across town. I could take the
side streets at 25 mph, and if the airbag blew unexpectedly
it would likely only send me careening into someone's front
yard where I would finish out my heart attack and die.
appointed hour came. I gingerly turned on the ignition,
leaning as far back from the steering wheel as possible.
The airbag light was still on. Had I owned a pair
of Depends I would have been wearing them. I reclined
the seat to what is probably called the "laying
flat" position. I couldn't see the road, but I
was out of reach of the airbag. I was
also out of reach of the gas pedal.
some minor readjustments "we" were on our way, sailing
down my street at 3 miles per hour. I was prepared to pilot
this unstable vessel the full mile and a half to the dealership.
I arrived at the dealership, hyperventilating, sweating profusely
and with a kink in my neck. "We" made it.
breathlessly explained the problem to the repairman, who nodded
and told me he could not repair the car
until the following week.
felt safe with the repairman. I knew he would have the answer
to why the airbag light was on, and would tell me that my
husband's friend was full of hot air and not to worry about
driving the car back home. I knew he would say all the right
things to dispel all of my fears and I would feel silly for
driving all the way here lying on my back. So I chuckled nonchalantly
and asked him if it was safe, in the meantime, to drive the
car with the airbag light on like that.
looked at me with his kind, understanding mechanic eyes and
quipped, "Legally, I can't tell you."
the average person, that remark might have meant, "Legally,
I can't tell you." But to a person who just drove a mile
and a half with a live bomb ticking inside her steering wheel,
what I heard was, "The last time I told someone the airbag
wouldn't go off, it deployed right after they drove out of the
parking lot which scared the driver so bad he lost control,
hit a couple of gas pumps at the gas station across the street
and blew up the entire town."
that point, driving the car home seemed, I don't know,
if I wait for it?" I said.