I am left-handed. I sign my name, open catsup bottles and play ball with the dependable grip of my left hand. However, I never considered my left-handedness a serious factor in my driving skills or my sense of humor, until recently.

At first I noticed that my middle finger of my left hand would lock into a clinched grip position. It was an inconvenient annoyance to have to pull the finger back and unlock the grip.

Then over time it developed into more of a problem. It became a formidable and unpredictable torment when the finger locked into a clinched grip. The locked-grip pain was intense, but unlocking it was worse.

I made adjustments to adapt to this new normal. I found utensils and tools with more accommodating and comfortable handles.

But when the clinched grip locked around my steering wheel I knew I was in serious trouble.

The locked grip on the steering wheel was a threat to myself and to others. I no longer could depend on the dexterity of my left hand to maneuver quickly out of harm’s way. The locked middle finger had become a threat to my freedom to travel.

This new infringement on my mobility demanded immediate attention. I went into survival mode. I improvised. With the aid of my sewing machine and some innovation I designed a steering wheel cover that satisfied my needs.

The payoff was more than I could have dreamed for. I now drive pain free.

In addition to my physical adjustments, my sense of humor had some adjustments, too.

When I am driving, I still get perturbed with those annoying drivers who think they own the road, but I have given up wanting to flip them off.

I never actually executed the single finger salute but now I don’t even consider it. With the possibility of my middle finger going into clinched grip mode, what once would have been an impolite hand gesture now looks more like the “I love you” sign in American Sign Language – which gave me an idea.

Now when I encounter an annoying driver, I acknowledge their road ownership with a smile and a nod. Yes, of course they own the road and have the right to be in the space I thought was rightfully mine.

I have also perfected my new “I love you” sign to help express this newfound wisdom. If they don’t understand the gesture, it really doesn’t matter. I know what I’m really thinking anyway.

Mary Grace Bennett lives on Hilton Head Island.