"You're the only person I know who can turn advanced car technology into a problem," my friend, Bob, said to me.
He's right. I'm having a hard time coping with my new car. I'm a 1965 Dodge Dart-type person, and I'm trapped in 21st-century Japanese technology. I'll admit that I've adjusted to power windows and perhaps even power seats, but when you go beyond that, I'm flummoxed.
What the heck is a transponder? It's in my manual and it's on my key chain. Why do I need it? Apparently, it helps foil car thieves, but if that's the case, why was the car dealer's salesman so dead set on selling me LoJack?
The salesman also stressed that I could use the panic button to find my car in a crowded parking lot. ... The first time I tried it, there happened to be a little old lady getting out of her car, which was parked next to mine. The image of her clutching her heart and gasping for breath has successfully discouraged me from ever using the panic button again.
This came in handy the first night I had the car and some guy was staring at it at the Chinese restaurant. (I guess I should have been more tolerant. The dealer sticker was still on it and it is a nice car.)
One morning at 6 o'clock, Jim accidentally pushed the panic button in our quiet suburban neighborhood. Now, the logical thing would be for him to push the button again to stop it, but this seems to be too complex for my computer-analyst husband. Instead, he runs into the house and asks me how to stop the alarm.
"Push the button again!" I yell, but it's too late. Angry neighbors with pitchforks and torches are already at our door.
The salesman also stressed that I could use the panic button to find my car in a crowded parking lot. In theory, this sounds great, but the first time I tried it, there happened to be a little old lady getting out of her car, which was parked next to mine. The image of her clutching her heart and gasping for breath has successfully discouraged me from ever using the panic button again.
This is a major bummer, because I can never find this car. Its color is described as "aspen green (metallic)," but depending on the light, it ranges from green to slate gray. I never know what color car I'm looking for. I'm reduced to wandering through parking lots looking for my license plate.
By the way, considering the many "senior moments" I've been suffering of late and my general absentmindedness, need I mention how many times I stand in front of the doorway of my house pushing the "unlock" button on the transponder to open the door? My husband stands there and laughs at me, guaranteeing the fact that I will serve him something not-so-pleasant for dinner (like brussels sprouts or cabbage).
Our new car is a scootch wider than our old car, so getting into our garage is a major task for me. I get overcautious and steer wide of the left side since I had an unfortunate incident with my previous car in which I ripped off my side-view mirror. (I'm a good driver, really. My garage is possessed.)
While I have plenty of room to get out of the car on my side, Jim often has to exit the car like a snake wriggling out of the birth canal. (Did I mention that I always drive when we're together because if I don't, I throw up?)
So anyway, let me get back to this transponder thing. The car salesman told me that they were giving us two sets of keys (and transponders) and that if we wanted a spare, all we had to do was go down to the dealer and have one made up. Sounds easy, eh?
The other day, I decided that it would be a very good idea to have an extra set of keys (and transponder).
The first guy I talk to tells me my key will cost $8 to duplicate. (Geez, remember when you went into a hardware store and they made it up for a dollar?) Then he sees that it's the kind with a computer chip that has to be coded by the service department.
So I go to the service guy and he says, yeah, he can do it right away. I ask him how much it will be. He says "Two-twenty five." I say, "Oh, that's even cheaper than the eight dollars the first guy quoted me. OK, do it."
He looked at me blankly. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"The guy at the front desk says the key costs eight dollars. I'm surprised this is only two-twenty five."
"Ma'am," he said, with a slight smirk, "What you want costs Two HUNDRED and twenty five, not two-twenty five."
Well, after they picked me up off the floor, I decided a spare is not necessary. When I got home, I told Jim to guard his keys with his life. I told him that if he loses his keys, he'll be eating a lot worse than cabbage.
Oh, and if I lose the little silver tab that has the transponder code on it, they tell me they may have to replace the whole system, which will really cost a bundle! These car manufacturers have a real racket going, don't they? Yeah, sure, we'll come down on the sticker price and give you a "bargain," because we know that in the long run, you're an idiot. You're going to lose your keys so many times that you'll have to second-mortgage your house just to start your car.
Ah, technology. I love it.
This article is copyright 2001 by Minx McCloud and appears here with both her permission and the permission of The Princeton Packet.
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