I’ve never liked cars. They aren’t my friends. Often they’re my enemies. I can admire them from afar and even nurse crushes on them, especially all those hunky and muscular sports cars that never sat next to me in the middle-school lunchroom, and I often fantasize (chin on hand, eyes gazing at the clouds) about my vehicular ideal: a manual-transmission, four-wheel-drive Prius station wagon with a roof rack and a collapsible third row that gets 60 miles to the gallon, laughs mockingly at the snow and costs $20,000 brand frickin’ new. You find me that car, I will not only buy it, I will marry it.
My ideal car does not drive itself. I don’t care what Google says or does. You know how you want your spouse or lover to be independent and fine without you, but not THAT independent and fine without you? You want him or her to follow your express directions, at least in theory. You don’t want him to possess total autonomy and happiness in your absence, like, say, given a choice between you and a bloomin’ onion, the onion might just win out.
Well, I don’t want my car to be totally autonomous, either. I want it to NEED me. What’s more, I want to make some of the driving decisions on my own, such as: when to determine that a child on a sidewalk is about to chase into the street after a ball; when to downshift from third to second and second to first instead of braking, because it’s snowing, I’m driving toward a stop sign, and I can see a shiny slippery schmear of shit on the road some 30 feet ahead; when to wave another car ahead of me in a traffic jam, because someone just waved me in, and, you know, The Golden Rule; when to determine, if only from the tint in his window or the narcissistic gleam in his eye, that some fathead is about to cut me off.
Should I give him the finger? Probably not. That’s my decision, too.
One more thing. I DON’T TRUST COMPUTERS. Motherboards crash. On everything. Including cars. Someday, if you’re unlucky, I’ll tell you about the Mazda that broke my heart and my bank account. Also, even when they’re working well, computers are testy, moody, evil and capricious things that wish me ill and will not be persuaded. You want to know how well I get along with them at work? Just roll down your window next time you’re near Albany-Shaker Road around 4 pm on any given workday, and you’ll hear my faint but audible howls of pain and supplication — my PLEASE PLEASE PLEASEs and NO NO NOs and SHIT SHIT SHITs and then COMPUTER, I BEG YOU, I BEG YOU and finally OKAY, LISTEN, THIS IS WHAT WE’LL DO: IF YOU LET ME FILE THIS ONE STORY, I PROMISE YOU A LIFE OF SERVITUDE.
And then, thank goodness, I drive myself home.