My car is the biggest tattletale. I thought only children were tattletales. Running home as fast as possible to report to the first grown up they cross paths with that little Trina traded here oh so nutritious tuna sandwich for a pack of cinnamon bears… Trades like that made me the “robust” woman I am today. But no, now I have a car that can make or break me at every twist and turn of a dial. Each button I push out of sequence, every stop I make can betray my confidence. Oh what a tangled web of wires and bundles of instruments can do now-a-days.
I should have gotten a clue when in the buying process the “money guy” started to try to upsell us on the extras. You know, poly razzmatazz coating that will outlast a nuclear attack. A super thingy that will deter thieves, but of course it doesn’t work outside the city limits, where I live. The biggy was the extended warranty because new cars have like 176 little computers that do nothing but monitor the driver and go ka-fluey. Yes 176 little tattletales. Here is what I have to deal with. Of course it is all about me!
First thing I noticed was the radio noises. I used to be able to change the station in stealth mode. My husband likes the jibber jabber of talk radio, I like rock and roll. In our old car while it drove and he slept, I used to be able to turn down the volume and slip quietly into the 60’s. Now it takes at least two beeps and a buzzer to get from news nannies to the top 20. A chancy undertaking that could wake him up starting a discussion about “That noise isn’t music…”
Next to the top of the list of annoying tattlers is the ding-ding-ding warning to the driver that the turn signal has been left on. This one luckily will tell on him before me. Before we had this car I was the ding ding, ding-a-ling to tell him his blinker was on. But now I have to sit there and wait for it to do my job for me. It’s frustrating to wait, but I will because I like to see him try to figure out what the reason is he is being scolded by his automobile. Huh? Maybe it isn’t all about me!
It dings when you leave the lights on, dings when you leave your door open, dings when you don’t put on your seat belt. It dings when your gas tank gets low, dings and flashes when you have a low tire. Now I am a true ding-a-ling.
But the biggest tattletale computer? It is something called the LWM, the Lane Warning Monitor, think anyway. Let me start my telling you that Disneyland was opened the year I was born. Just a small fact that has no bearing on this story, but my family went to Disneyland when I was five. The most exhilarating ride I remember was driving a little car, buy myself. It was a car straddling a cement barrier which kept the car on the little fake road but I remember the thrill of driving in that little car, trying to keep it in the middle. I felt that thrill for years. But now with this LWM—well let’s just say the thrill is gone.
The LWM was not designed by anyone who has traveled the secondary roads of states with destinations described only by mile markers. It is a given that on dark nights, cows, especially black cows, deer and larger and smaller animals scurry across the back roads. Thus driving a bit closer to the center to the roads it is an unwritten albeit not truly legal, right. This gives the driver, or so I have been told, a better chance to swerve and miss said scurrying animals. But now when the car gets the least little bit too close to the center line or scoots just a tad too far to the right literally all the bells and whistles go off. Okay, just another loud dinger dings. Scolding the driver, “GET OVER! GET OVER!” Yes apparently the rumble strip wasn’t enough to keep us on the road. Now my car adds to the rumble strip rattity-tat-tat, a ding-ding-ding to keep me on my toes.
Before I go I want to give a big raspberry to whoever designed and implemented the center of the road rumble strip. As if our roads weren’t torn up enough by vehicles and weather, this person decided to add more holes that fill with water in the winter, freeze, expand and cause HUGE holes in the middle of the road. Oh I have to stop…
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org