Urban Thumb Legends

Preface:  My oldest son is learning to drive from a driving school billed as ‘training the safest drivers’. In practical terms, this means that when my son isn’t behind the wheel, he is criticizing everything I do particularly if it is at variance with his classroom teachings.

Son: Amma, your hands are in the wrong position on the steering wheel. Your thumbs are pointing into the wheel.

Amma: Yeah right, hands at 10 o’clock, 2 o’clock. What’s this about my thumbs?

Son: Your thumbs are facing inwards.

Amma: Where should they be?

Son: On the sides.

Amma: You mean sticking out?

Son: No, here (places thumbs on the steering wheel.)

Amma: Why can’t my thumbs be facing inwards?

Son: Because of the airbags.

Amma: Airbags? They didn’t have airbags in cars when I learned to drive. In fact, the first car I drove, my mother’s stick-shift 1962 VW beetle, didn’t even have seat belts!

Son: Ok Mom. Nowadays in the 21st century all cars have air bags.

Amma: So what is this airbag supposed to do to my thumbs if they are in the wrong place?

Son: The airbag will rip your thumbs right off.

Amma (laughing): You mean, there will be a car accident and the police are going to have to run around searching for my thumbs that came off?

Son (serious): Yes. But fortunately, the thumbs can be sewn on again. I don’t see why you are laughing at this.

Amma (Imagining scores of people with thumbs scars from where their thumbs were re-attached. Is their texting impaired?): I think in driving school they tell you a lot of urban legends to scare you into being good drivers.

Son: But it’s true!

Amma (considering the value of having a good teenage driver, even if he is scared out of his wits because you know how important texting is to them): Well, I suppose I am laughing because it is just so macabre.

Son: (triumphantly) That’s how I can tell you are married to a German.



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