The scorching steering wheel

As one would expect, it is hot here in Atlanta, GA where I live. Going outside is like walking into an oven … that’s on! The humidity feels suffocating, and everyone shuffles about in a daze, bathed in a pool of sweat. It’s bad enough entering the subway that’s so cash-strapped they can’t afford to turn on the air conditioning and instead set up a couple of industrial fans which just blow the hot air around. I definitely can’t imagine entering a car that didn’t have AC while enduring a Georgia summer.

And maybe that’s because I have flashbacks to some brutally hot summers growing up in Southern California. I remember plenty of triple digit days growing up, and we never had a car that had AC. At most of the apartment complexes we lived at, we had a shaded carport. In the summer, it was Dad’s job to go downstairs and “prep the car” for Mom and me, which meant rolling all of the windows down and trying to let all of the built-up heat escape. Dad did his best, but I still remember how hard it was to catch my breath the first couple of minutes I was in the car.

While we were out and about, Dad would search vainly for a shaded parking spot, but alas, we often came up empty. That’s where the rags came in. Dad kept a pair of rags under his seat so that he would be able to hold on to the steering wheel after the car had been setting in the sun too long! I can still see and hear my dad exclaim (sometimes with a four-letter word) as he gingerly touched the steering wheel. You would have thought it had shocked him! Still, I believed him when he said how hot it was, because I had to avoid touching the vinyl back seat cover for fear of melting into it.

As I got older, I became more and more mortified that someone would notice our old jalopy puttering down the road, with the driver steering a wheel covered in rags.

In hindsight, those were the good old days.

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