Saturday, February 8
The Talking Car
I live in New York City and do not own a car. Still, since I spent a number of formative years in Southern California, I have a certain affinity for the automobile and am always interested in any advancements in automotive technology.
Recently I took two buses, a subway and a taxi cab to the West Side where Manhattan car dealers are located. I wanted to test drive one of the new cars with the talking feature that gives you audio advice while you are driving.
I was a little concerned when the salesman insisted that he didn't need to come along with me for the test drive. "I've had just about all I can take," he said, but then caught himself. "It will be a much more, um, satisfying experience if you are on your own."
When I started the car I heard a friendly female voice say, "Be sure your parking brake is disengaged before shifting into Drive." Very helpful, I thought. "Look both ways before merging into traffic." Okay, a bit intrusive but still, Safety First.
As I pulled onto the highway I thought I'd try out the sound system so I turned on the radio. A rather syrupy love song came on so I switched to an Oldies station I like. A few seconds later I heard the friendly female voice say, "Hey, I was listening to that."
"I was listening to that."
"I, er, uh, Is, is this the car?" I asked.
"Remember to check your rear and side view mirrors frequently. So you just change the station without asking?"
"Sorry," I grumbled. "I guess I didn't realize..."
"You are slowing down to a speed that is unsafe given the current flow of traffic."
I stepped on the gas to speed up. Perhaps I stepped a bit too abruptly.
"Why do you make it jerk like that!!!???"
"I was just accelerating."
"Well, you didn't have to hit the gas like that."
"That's how you accelerate! You hit the gas..."
The next part was somewhat muffled, but I believe I heard the words "Lead foot."
"I'm driving perfectly fine," I clenched. "Besides..."
"Remember to check your rear and side view mirrors frequently."
"I am checking..."
"Keep your eyes on the road ahead."
"How can I keep my eyes on the road ahead when I'm CHECKING MY GODDAM MIRRORS ALL THE TIME!!!"
"Road Rage Detector activated."
"ROAD RAGE DETECTOR?!!! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD..."
"Road Rage detected."
"Central Authority notified."
Central Authority? That sounded ominous. I concluded that it might be time to resort to reason.
"Look, I'm sorry I lost my temper..."
"This is Central Authority," a gruff male voice had replaced her. "Traffic enforcement."
"Oh, hello Mister...Authority," I said, trying to sound calm, respectful, and unragelike. "I was just out for a test drive and I think the voice thingy malfunctioned."
"Oh, the voice thingy. Don't worry about that. Happens all the time. Now, do you need any help?"
"Actually, I'm not quite sure where I am. Can you guide me back to the dealer?"
"Sure. Just take a left here."
The Oldies station was still playing on the radio so I leaned over and turned it off.
"Hey," said Central Authority, "I was listening to that."
photo credit: TheBusyBrain via photopin cc