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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: The car that talks too much

© Another Day in the Country

Yes, I know that civilization must progress. New things are invented every day to make our lives easier or more complicated, depending on your age bracket or point of view. The world is getting better! Soon cars will be driving themselves, and we’ll just be along for the ride.

Spare me! I am not looking forward to driverless cars! It’s bad enough to put up with one that thinks it is in charge. Already I have a computer that attempts to write my emails for me and a telephone that invents words that I never intended to send out in texts. That’s enough!

My daughter Jana’s new Jeep is one of those know-it-all cars that is constantly talking to you. Unfortunately it doesn’t speak English. It talks a version of Auto-Braille with different beeps and buzzes, flashing lights and clicks. It’s like trying to carry on a conversation with a porpoise.

“We need to get acquainted,” I said to the car when I first encountered it in June. “I appreciate all your gadgets, but just to be clear, I’m in charge. I’m the driver. I’m the master of our mutual destiny, so trust me.”

The car didn’t answer then, but she has subtle ways of asserting herself.

This car has a feature that takes control of the wheel if you get too close to the center line.

Can you believe it? It’s never happened to me, but it did to my son-in-law.

“What the *#@!” he said as we curved our way down the hill — him driving at maximum speed for the corners, me sliding around in the back seat because I hadn’t fastened my seat belt.

At that particular moment, I was siding with the car. I felt rather smug that she’d interfered.

“Did you feel that?” Richard wanted to know, laughing. “The car moved me away from the center line.”

To be truthful, I had not felt that particular sensation but plenty of other ones!

“It actually moves the steering wheel. It’s like some strong arm takes over!”

Meanwhile, I am sitting in the back seat with the country song “Jesus Take the Wheel” going through my head. I’d heard it many a time but it suddenly had taken on new meaning.

“What would it feel like to be driving along and some unseen force would take control of the wheel? Weird!”

I vowed, “Not for me!” and have been very cautious, for lots of reasons, to stay away from that center line.

This new-fangled car also has a feature that, if you are moving slowly and tap the brake, it will assume that your foot slipped if you don’t continue the motion and will brake for you.

“What the heck was that?” I said as I backed around in the driveway, cautiously.

“Oh, that’s the automatic brakes,” my grandson informed me from the back seat. “It thinks you needed to stop.”

I was indignant.

“Well, I didn’t. I was just being cautious.”

Dagfinnr was sticking up for the car.

“Well, Baba, the car doesn’t know the difference between a bush and a solid object, so it stopped you, just in case.”

“That’s why I’m the one driving,” I retorted. “When I need this dang car to do the driving, I’ll let it know.”

“Baba, words, words — you said dang.”

I’ve discovered the car is a gas- conserving automobile. The motor stops the minute you brake for traffic or a stoplight. For someone from Kansas, who normally drives the “grandma car,” which is old, ailing, and sometimes failing, it is an alarming thing for the motor to suddenly stop in traffic.

“I can turn off that feature,” my daughter said the first time I drove the car, “so it doesn’t worry you.”

“No, I’ll adjust!” I tell her.

That is my constant mantra these days, whether it’s shopping in California, sleeping in a strange bed, figuring out the food I’m eating, or just driving down the street.

“I’ll adjust!”

Meanwhile, before you know it, “This too shall pass,” and I’ll be at home spending another day in the country.

Last modified July 25, 2019

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