Thursday, October 26, 2017

"The Car Of The Future Is Here Today - Please, Don't Make Me Drive It"

My ’92 Lexus shook like a 50’s test plane breaking the “Sound Barrier”, made  earsplitting ratcheting noises, smelled like something inside it was burning and drove like it was stuck draggingly in “Neutral.”

I figured it was time to take it in.  (Like its aging owner, my 25 year-old Lexus is in increasing need of restorative maintenance.)

When it’s in the shop, the Lexus dealership provides customers with “Loaner Cars”.  Or as they call them “Courtesy Cars”, so you’ll think they are doing you a “courtesy” rather than sneakily getting you to “test drive” a new Lexus.

“Hey, this car is better!  Maybe I should ‘trade up’.”

Then, instead of paying hundreds for the repairs, you are shelling out tens of thousands for a car you had no previous interest in purchasing.  If there were no subterfuge involved, they’d have provided me a 25 year-old “Courtesy Car.” 

Which I’d have preferred because I’d have known how to drive it.

My 2017 “Courtesy Car” came equipped with the advanced – compared to my “classic” – “Bells and Whistles”, including a now-standard “Back-Up” camera, with its accompanying “Beeps”, alerting me to proximate objects.  (Or people.  Or beloved pets.)


I’m at home.  I have to go someplace.  Time to “fire up” the “Courtesy Car.”

No more key.  I put my foot on one of the pedals – I do not currently recall which – and press “Power.”  The car’s engine – if they still have engines – roars immediately to life.  I put the car into “Reverse”, preparing to back out of the garage.

The car “Beeps.” 

“Watch out on the ‘Front-Left.’”  (Hitting the side of the garage.)

I make a slight steering-wheel adjustment.

The car “Beeps.”

“Watch out on the ‘Front-Right.’” (Hitting a metal bookshelf, slated for Salvation Army reclamation.)

Having apparently “over-shot” my slight steering-wheel correction to the “right”, I make a slight steering wheel “counter-correction.”


“Watch out on the Front-Left.”

I make a “counter-counter correction”?


“Watch out on the Front-Right.” 

The frustration increases.  Whatever I do, I get “Beeped” from another direction.

I roll back warily towards the garage-door opening. 


“Watch out on the ‘Rear-Left.”

I correct my trajectory.


“Watch out on the Rear-Right.”

I finally give up, backing out of the garage as carefully as I can.  The car hates what I’m doing, its intense “Beeping” simultaneously alerting,

“Watch out on the Back-Left! – “Watch out on the Back-Right!” 

“Watch out on the Back-Left!” – Watch out on the Back-Right!” 



By the time I am – safely, no thanks to them – out of the garage, I am entirely drenched in sweat.

And I still have to back into the street!

“Driverless” cars.  (Moving on seamlessly.)

This one, I might actually like.  

One of my nightmarish dreads is the inevitable “Driver’s Test.” 

“Driverless” cars? 

No more “Driver’s Test.” 

“You don’t see well enough to drive.”

“So what?  My car does.”

There are still going to have “Driver’s Tests”? 

For what?  Sitting in the seat?

“GPS”?  (He then segues, with consummate Borscht Belt comedian savoir-faire.)  Or, as it’s been soothingly rebranded, 

“Route Guidance”?

That one’s been around a while.  Although its effectiveness has been thankfully improved.

The first time we tried “GPS”, it took us accurately from Santa Monica to Carmel (the “sweaters-knotted-around-their-shoulders” capital of the world), a distance of  346.1 miles.  But when the device climactically announced,

“You have arrived at your destination”,

We looked out the window,

And it was a field.

(We had booked an actual hotel.) 

“Route Guidance” is now, apparently, more reliable.  Though the “Rebellious Driver” in the family regularly ignores it. 

On a recent trip to Chicago – her original “Stomping Ground” – the “Route Guidance” Voice – Can you imagine the auditions for that job?  “That was great, Marcy.  This time, keep it ‘authoritative’ but dial back the ‘imperious.’”

The disembodied “Marcy” reports,

“In one thousand feet, turn right at Ogden Avenue.”

Our “Rebellious Driver” with other ideas, hearing, a thousand feet later, the repeated,

“Turn right at Ogden Avenue",

Instead shoots right past Ogden Avenue.

This blatant “Driver Disobedience” elicits a stony silence from the machine.  But you can sense “Route Guidance’s” ruffled reaction:

“Oh, really?”

I can imagine confrontational “fireworks” in this arena, unbending “Tests of Will”, screaming for commentarial attention. 

As for now…

You have arrived at your blogatorial destination.

We hope you have enjoyed your trip.

(Lingering “Equal Opportunity” Question:  How come they only select women for “Route Guidance” employment?  And in fancy cars, women with cultivated English accents?)

1 comment:

Pidge said...

Actually, you can often choose the voice you want to hear nagging you on your trip. In France, Alan chose a lovely lady he named 'Isabelle' to mislead us around the Loire Valley. My sister had to switch her GPS to a male voice because her husband never listens to a woman telling him what to do!