Where is a vehicle grab handle when you need it? Or a shirt pocket?



There are a lot of things you don’t miss until they’re gone. I miss some things that weren’t even there.

Grab the grab handle on the side ceiling of the driver’s seat of my 2020 Kia Soul. Kia certainly did. Take it, I mean. The ceiling above the other three seats does, but not above the seat I spend most of my time in.

Apparently, these handles are known colloquially as “Oh, Jesus!” handles. That’s because some passengers have been known to shout this before desperately grabbing one when the driver is doing a high-speed 180 in a Kmart parking lot.

The handles are also useful in other situations, including when getting into a car or getting out. Some sources claim that automakers don’t put them on the driver’s side because the driver already has a steering wheel for that purpose.

Well, I miss mine. In our previous 2012 Kia Soul, there was a driver’s side handle. In our current version, there is only a rectangular depression where one could fit. Either there was a mistake on the assembly line the day our car was made, or the manufacturer decided that three was enough.

Of course, for decades people got by without any grab handles inside their car. The first time I saw one I thought it was laughable. Is a midsize sedan or a family station wagon really need a grab bar? Who gets in and out of these vehicles? Skydivers? Do they have to snap in and wait for the jump light?

Then I got a car that had four, one at each door. And I liked them.

I know we’re supposed to keep both hands on the wheel at all times while driving, but does anyone actually do that? Sometimes you need to move your upper body to a different position, maybe take one hand off the wheel just to restore circulation to one shoulder. That’s when I loved my grab handle. I lifted my left arm, wrapped my fingers around the handle and let my arm hang there.

It may have looked ridiculous to other drivers, like I was mimicking a subway straphanger – mimicking public transport in the most private transport ever – but I didn’t care.

Now I can’t do that. This small omission is not enough for us to replace the car. Nor the thing that really bothers my wife: no fuzzy stripe along door window sills. Are there any cars that have more? None of our Kias did, so maybe it’s just a Kia thing. It used to be that you could wipe raindrops or dew from the outside of your window simply by raising and lowering it. This fuzzy little band was like a squeegee.

This car doesn’t have that. My wife grunts every time she walks out into the driveway and sees it’s raining.

It’s nothing compared to an obsession that’s been eating away at me for a few months: where did the pockets of the men’s dress shirts go? It’s bad enough that men’s dress shirts these days are all “tailored fit” and “modern fit.” My days of modern form are long gone.

But then when I find a “regular fit”, “relaxed fit” or “dad fit” shirt, I have to make sure it has a pocket on the left chest. Very few do these days.

Ever since I was an adult, dress shirts have had pockets. It was always the norm. The realmenrealstyle.com website states that “the vast majority of men never use this pocket”, adding “the fact is that most men would be better off not having a pocket at all”.

Well, the vast majority of car passengers never use their seatbelts either, but the fact is that when they’re boned at an intersection, they’re glad it’s there. And because I depend on a pen for my work, I need pockets. My shirt pocket contains my company’s Uni-Ball Onyx rollerball.

If you’ve ever seen a guy at Macy’s rummaging through men’s shirts, trying to find one that ticks all the boxes in terms of color, collar, cuff, fabric, fit and poachedit was me.

And that was me the other day mailing back three shirts I’d ordered online from one of those fancy English blouses. Somehow I had missed the fact that they didn’t come with pockets.

So I wrapped up the shirts, printed out the return label, and drove to the post office, both hands firmly on the wheel.


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