Meditations on Windshield Wiping
photo: driving in the rain by Chris Rae
The past week of general sogginess combined with frequent driving has offered me time to contemplate the subtleties of windshield wiper operation.
Observing other drivers, there seem to be several profiles that most motorists fall into.
1. The Kamikaze.
Completely oblivious to reality, wiping away full at full blast. This is the strategy regardless of the actual level of precipitation. A Shock and Awe approach to getting that Rotisserie Chicken home from Byerly’s after soccer practice. I imagine a scene of melting and stressed wiper motor components under your hood.
2. The Minimalist
I’d like to think that if my car’s mechanicals were sentient and formed a democracy, I would at least have the support of my windshield wiper motors. For I fall into this category, and for whatever reason, try to keep the wipers at the lowest effective speed in a situation.
This usually involves extensive experimentation with the intermittent wipe setting, which in my car is adjusted gradually by a twist knob offering seemingly limitless precision in adjusting the time between wipes. My excuse for adopting this slightly masochistic wiping philosophy is that my wipers make a annoying squeaking sound — although poor (smudge-prone) blades or the need to conserve washer fluid are also legitimate reasons to take this approach.
3. The Opportunist
Although difficult to identify unless you’re inside the vehicle in question, this philosophy involves using the wipers manually on an as-needed basis. Although I only enter this territory absentmindedly, I know drivers who do nothing else in anything but a downpour.
If anyone feels compelled to identify their own style, whether identified above or not, please do.
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