Every 10 years or so I am forced to get a new car, or at least one that is new to me.
It is an agonizing process, at least for me. There are so many choices to be made and so many ways to go. And you are investing such a large chunk of money on something that loses a huge chunk of its value as soon as it becomes yours.
Then you have to answer the customer satisfaction surveys If you don’t give all perfect answers, someone has to explain why you weren’t ecstatic with your purchase and I don’t want to have to keep repeating that it isn’t them, it’s me.
Then I had to thumb through the 700-page owner’s manual that came with the car. I’m afraid that if I miss something in the manual, I might mess up my new car. I know they try to make new cars idiot proof, but some of us are invulnerable to rational action.
Luckily there is a “quick” guide to the car, which only has about 100 pages. I figure I should be through that before my three-year lease is up.
It’s a compact SUV crossover, and it’s way sportier than I am. Even though I went with a fairly basic model, this new vehicle has more buttons, touch screens, tabs and arrows printed on the dashboard and steering wheel than I have any hope of learning. I am sure that most people are used to these and have been for years. But I’m not.
I’m scared to touch anything lest it set the car to beeping again. It beeps at the slightest provocation.
It beeps if I get out of my lane. It beeps if someone is coming up on me. It beeps for my blind spots. It beeps if I try to lock the doors with the key still inside the car. It beeps if I back up incorrectly. There probably are a lot of other beeps I haven’t found yet, but I’m sure I will.
It’s not self-driving, but it definitely is a nag. It tells me if I am not accelerating in an economical mode. It tells me if I am getting too close to the vehicle in front of me. I tells me if I go over any of the white lines along the roadside. It tells me when to fill up with gas.
Apparently I can no longer run over things. There is a warning system for that. I bet that costs extra. I’m not sure why I have to pay it.
Safety, of course, is the first concern. My wife loves this vehicle because of all the safety precautions. It is good for older people like us, she says.
There is a back up camera, all sorts of sensors and even some radar in the car somewhere. The headlights are automatic. Set the switch once and you never have to touch it again. It turns on the running lights in the daytime and turns on headlights when it thinks you need them. I was just getting used to the headlights that stayed on after you got out of the car.
It has 36 preset positions for radio stations. I didn’t know there were even that many stations in St. Louis.
If I press a button on the steering wheel, a voice asks me what I want to do. After a straight line like that, it ignores any joke I tell it. I had to train it to recognize my voice. And still I hear, “I didn’t quite get that.” I have to be precise when speaking.
I know most of this is just me being behind technology advances again. But I’m not sure I need such a nagging car.
I read where cars will be self-driving soon. Also, someone predicted that there won’t be that many people who actually buy cars because of the rising expense, but the ones who do will rent theirs to people who don’t.
So I may not need to buy another car in another 10 years, if I’m still driving.
Actually I’m hoping that by then they will have large drones that can swoop down, pick me up from my doorstep and fly me to wherever I need to go.
And no beeps, please.
Wally Spiers: firstname.lastname@example.org