I’ve made the decision that I am only going to drive late model cars.
Operative word – drive.
Here’s why. Great Guy and I spent the first hour of our vacation in the rental car lot trying to figure out how to work the damn thing.
“How do you start this car?”
“Where’s the key?”
“Is this a key? Where do you put it?”
Looking around the steering column, “Isn’t there an ignition?”
When we figured out that keys don’t start cars anymore, we were now faced with an array of touchscreens and knobs. I felt like those babies with a fake car dashboard pushing knobs and levers up and down, making weird noises and nothing happening.
“How do you turn on the radio?”
“I don’t know, what about this?”
“What did you touch? I was trying to sync my phone. Now it’s not working. Don’t touch anything.”
I just want to get from point A to point B with a little music. But I am now compelled to sync my phone, hook up my own music into the car’s fancy-schmancy sound system, scan through five thousand Sirius radio stations and pull off onto the shoulder so I can plug in an address for directions I don’t trust anyway.
One night I picked up Great Guy at the train station and he can’t spot me among all the idling cars. He calls me. But his phone is the primary bluetooth connection in the car and he’s within range. Now my cell won’t work, since it is all confused. Do I use the Bluetooth? my phone wonders. But I can’t connect to Bluetooth. Some other phone cut in front of me. I’ll just sit here with a black screen and wait for that call to end. So with all this technology to connect us, I have to get out of the car and scream his name to get his attention.
I remember when I thought I was hot stuff because I finally got a Bluetooth earpiece. After I figured out how many beeps in my ear I needed to hear in order to get voice commands, I said:
“No. Call Nan.”
I don’t even know a Pam. “No Call Nan”
Obviously the tone in my voice pissed off Ms. Bluetooth, because then she said, “Call Chris Home?”
“Where did you get that?”
By now I forgot what I wanted to say to Nan anyway.
I want OnStar with a real person at the other end. I would call OnStar and make it do the things my family calls me to do. Make a reservation. Send me driving directions. Tell me if there is traffic up ahead. And when I’m on a long trip alone, I imagine hitting that little button for company, like Delilah on the radio. I’d get a friendly voice saying “Onstar. How can I help you?” How nice is that?
Wait! I have a better idea. We create an Onstar call-in show. All us lonely drivers who aren’t talking on our cell phones because we can’t get them to sync, could get a group chat – a real chat – going. Today’s version of the CB radio. Maybe they could offer OnStar meet-ups. Our OnStar operator could start announcing meet-ups based on our location, since they know where we are. Creepy and exciting at the same time.
Now cars are better drivers than us. They are looking over our shoulders when we forget to, braking when we are too slow on the pedal, slowing us down so we don’t crash into the semi-truck because we are too busy looking at the large monitor on our dashboard for the latest news and traffic and celebrity reports.
Driverless cars. Let me say that again. Driverless cars. Begs the question, why is my car leaving home without me? And am I the only one who remembers Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey? Look, there have been plenty of times I wouldn’t have minded a little assistance for those tight parking spots or when I’m really tired, but a driverless car? Poll the average person and ask if their smart phones are all that smart. I envision telling my car, “take me to the office” and I end up at Office Depot, unable to redirect my car at any point in this crazy excursion. I can see it now, a crazy, trapped woman, hands pressed up against the driver window pleading for help. OnStar! I’ve been kidnapped by my car!