family life

Driving me crazy

Driving 400 miles in a car one has had a mere six days with two tech-savvier-than-thou teen daughters was, well, an experience.

As my husband has a near obsession with buying cars that might outlive us both, we hadn’t bought a vehicle in forever. In so long that any business interaction involving their years of origin leads to either raised eyebrows or tight-lipped smiles of pity.

The only reason we got this car, in fact, is a presumably drunk driver hit our aged wagon — thankfully while it was parked and empty — and it was totalled. And, the car market is so crazy that a 2023 — full of gizmos in spite of the fact this is a base model — seemed prudent.

So, it wasn’t my fault this trip required multiple forays into a stack of owners manuals thicker than my arm. (I mean, I’ve seen dashboards that looked like jet cockpits in other people’s cars, but this was the first time I’ve had to actually drive such a machine.)

Nor was it my fault that the ignition locked up because I parked with the front wheels slightly at an angle and had to call the dealership for help as this possibility was not covered in said owners manuals. Or that the steering wheel was set so high that none of us could actually find the gas gauge — which turned out to be nothing but an electronic strip on one of several screen possibilities that can be toggled through.

(Who — other than airline pilots — could reasonably expect a steering wheel to be able to move up and down? Pretty much anyone who isn’t older than dirt, the daughters informed me.)

Nor was it my fault that my brain needs buttons that can be pushed and turned and switches that can be flipped. At one point some 250 miles in and with daughter 1 safely dropped off at her destination, — daughter 2 asked, “Mom, are you OK?” when it was clear that I wasn’t. I had a short rant. “It’s not wrong for someone to think in ways that reflect the world in which they grew up,” I remember saying.

She responded with mysterious magic that hid a screenful of too many options — somehow swiping until there was nothing there except a view of starry sky. It was not unlike the one that seemed to suddenly surround us so dark was the night and so remote was our route. Then — how could this possibly work? — she took over the car’s sound system with her phone and made it play “classic Christmas songs.”

We passed through tiny downtown after tiny downtown — each with a Main Street lit with bells or Santas or holly sprays formed from colorful lights and hung from poles. Energy-efficient LED lights, but still colorful enough it felt like we were in a movie scene. For a moment, I reveled in the fact I was suddenly blessed with a car the color of matcha and a route snaky and rolling enough to display how well this amazing machine handles.

Through no fewer than eight speakers, Bing Crosby and Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis sang. Their numbers were from albums my grandmother used to stack six deep on a record player. I tried to explain to daughter 2 how gramma would let one “vinyl” after another drop mechanically into position under an actual needle.

And, then, I sang, too. I knew all the words.

25 thoughts on “Driving me crazy”

  1. This is why I don’t drive, even before cars turned into spaceships; though as I could never park during my brief driving career perhaps I needed all those cameras that show you where the kerb or the wall is. My older son is a test pilot and if it’s any comfort, when he came to stay once asked me how to work the washing machine! If we did all the training pilots do perhaps we could manage to drive a modern car. My lovely neighbour, 89 years old has just been given a smart phone by her son – she copes quite well with her iPad, but now she is thrown into confusion.

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    1. πŸ™‚ I love the part about your son not knowing how to operate the washing machine even though he’s a test pilot!! My daughters have tried to shame me into a smart phone. I’m keeping my comparatively simple flip phone until they don’t make them anymore!

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  2. I can so relate. I had to pull off the road after we bought a new car to figure out how to turn on the windshield wipers when it had begun to rain.

    Merry Christmas, old friend!

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    1. Merry Christmas to you, as well! It rained the first half of our trip and this car has windshield wipers front and back. Fortunately, the control was the same as our old wagon. So, I had that. And, pretty much only that.

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  3. Been there, ranted about that. How nice that we have the tech support of the next generation. I enjoyed the sweet ending, how the “Christmas spirit” brought the magic, and the frustrations melted away. Yes, technology is great when it’s working. πŸ˜‰ And daughters are a blessing. ❀

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  4. I just so happened to get one of these types of cars a couple of years ago. Tungsten, that’s his name, and I are getting along quite well now. πŸ˜„ He sings me a little ditty as I put my key into the ignition. He sends up a little warning if I cross the yellow or the white lines, even if I do it on purpose. It is kind of annoying when he informs me that the car in front of me has moved because I think he wants me to wave goodbye and I usually don’t even know who those people were. Oh does he get upset if I pull out of a parking space at the grocery store and intruders are within 20 feet or so. I just calmly explain that the garage belongs to him and Outty, but parking lots must be shared.
    You’ll learn to get along as well. πŸ˜„πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

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    1. πŸ˜€ I suspect this will be the case! My car is named Matcha. We are already getting along better, especially since she has a backup camera. My parking has already improved!

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  5. My brain went into tech overload and smoke started coming out my ears just looking at the picture you provided. LOL. I think I’m glad our vehicles keep us locked into the stone age of the early 2000’s. Thank goodness for tech savvy kids who have the knack bring out the best features in new electronics.

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  6. I am so far behind in my reading. lol. Enjoyed your story. I don’t understand all this new stuff in our world either. Lauren moved to Florida and Danielle is going soon. So I am in trouble!!! lol. I depended on them so much on the computer and my phone. Helping me. I love traveling and seeing the little towns decorated. And it brought back memories of my grandmother playing the records with a “needle” I went to my grandmothers when I was young, and listened to her records. We didnt have a record player at our house. Thats how I learned to sing alto. Merry Christmas Nora and family.

    .

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