The Old Coot’s new car is even bossier than his old one

My car makes me lie. A message appears on the display screen after I start it, forcing me to acknowledge that looking at the screen can result in a serious accident. Then, it bullies me into promising to only make changes to the radio, the heater and the GPS when the car is stopped. And to read the safety instructions in the navigation manual. The message won’t clear until I press “agree” on the touch screen. I lie; I press it.

My car is bossy. My old one bossed me around too, ordering me to check the tire pressure, get gas, etc., but I had some say. Now, I’m at the mercy of an over protective nanny running things from someplace behind the dash. The dealer says it’s an integral part of the car and can’t be altered, that all new cars are like this. It sounds to me like a lawyer thing, so car manufacturers are protected when I get in an accident. Even if that’s true, they didn’t have to make it so bossy.

The other day I wanted to go fishing. I was on the third floor in a hotel along the coast of Florida. I stepped out onto the balcony and used the car’s remote to unlock the doors. That way, I could leave the key (a $300 black box that’s more a computer than a key) in the room and still get my fishing gear out of the trunk. I sure didn’t want to lose the key in the surf. I’m not sure footed on dry land; put me waist deep in a surging ocean and I’m sure to topple over, and destroy the key. When I got down to the car, the doors were locked. “My aim must have been off,” I told myself, and climbed the three flights of stairs back to my room. This time I made sure the lights blinked, letting me know the door lock message was received by the car. I went back down, ready to land a big Pompano; the doors were still locked. The car didn’t want me to leave it unlocked for more than 30 seconds. I had to fish with a $300 key in my pocket. I was nervous and the fish knew it. I didn’t catch a thing.

It got me again, when I pulled into a parking spot overlooking the ocean. I wanted to sit there, sip my coffee and listen to the radio. The car wouldn’t let me! The radio wouldn’t play unless I started the car, which you do in this model by stepping on the brake and pushing a “start” button. The “key” just sits in your pocket and tells the car it’s okay. Then, by mistake, I pushed the start button without stepping on the brake. The dash lit up and the radio came on. The screen behind the speedometer scolded me, “Step on the brake stupid, if you want the car to start.” I ignored it since I’d inadvertently accomplished my objective. But then, the main screen put up a message. It ordered me to shut off the radio; I was running down the battery. I ignored that message too. It went away after a minute or so. Then, it came back, scolding me again; it repeated itself every few minutes and got so bossy I gave up and went outside to a bench as far from the car as I could get and enjoyed the surf. I’m in the market for a low tech, 1954 Ford. If you know where I can find one, let me know (Bill Wonder?).

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