Consider, as a twenty-first-century working-mom artifact, my poor twelve-year-old 140,000-mile Volvo… So many of the Volvo’s dashboard lights are on, each trying to alert me to one malfunction or another, that turning the ignition key is akin to plugging in that big Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
— From The Madwoman in the Volvo, by Sandra Tsing Loh. (Note: Despite the title and the excerpt above, there is very little about cars in this book.)
In the short story “The Introspections of J. P. Powers” by William Trevor, a driving instructor (Mr. Powers) is teaching Miss Hobish how to drive. She has been taking driving lessons for five years and she is 73 years old. Mr. Powers occasionally likes to remind her, for safety’s sake, to signal a turn not only with the car’s turn signal, but also with hand signals out the window.
On Tuesday September the twenty-first, Justin Parke Powers gave Miss Hobish her two hundred and forty-first driving lesson. He sat beside her, feet and hands alerted.
‘We’ve had no summer, Mr Powers.’ She sighed, settling herself. ‘One, two, three, four, up and back for reverse. Are we ready, Mr Powers?’
She drove raggedly from Cave Crescent to Amervale Avenue.
‘Hand signals,’ said Mr Powers, and Miss Hobish extended a scrawny arm and waved it arbitrarily about.