Let’s talk about cars and driving.
All of us remember that feeling we had when we finally took our first solo drive after getting our driver’s license.
The thrill and independence of it was unmatched. You got behind the wheel, turned the key and off you went: totally in control of your destination, a personal feeling of freedom you could get in no other way. You and the car had a bond.
Not so much in today’s world.
Now your car doesn’t need you. It can drive itself.
There was a time when a man could pride himself on being an expert at parallel parking. Now the car says, “Get out of the way. I got this.”
Today, your cruise control can continually adjust itself to the car in front of you. Your vehicle can tell you what’s behind it and tell you not to change lanes because there’s a car coming.
You’re not driving the car anymore: The car is driving you.
The car feels superior in its technology. Once subservient, your car is now the master. Now, your car looks down on you.
When they get together, cars make fun of people who drive them. They’re all chattering and laughing in the parking lot, then fall silent, grills still smirking as you approach.
GPS is something else that has diminished the pleasure of driving.
Sure, it’s convenient, but there used to be a charm in getting lost, then asking for directions. It was part of the rhythm of a road trip.
You’d stop at a country store, buy a can of Dr. Pepper and ask the clerk how to get to County Road 240 and the old Franklin place, both of your days enhanced for the experience, as the screen door banged shut as you strode back to the car.
Now, you just enter an address in your GPS and weep silently as your car ignition sounds and starts rolling down the road on its own. It is in control of you.
A friend of mine wanted to make a driving trip to Mesa Verde a few weeks ago. He entered the destination and suddenly the car lurched and pulled to the side of the road. A metallic computer voice said, “Wouldn’t you rather go to the Four Corners Monument instead, where I could put a tire in four different states at the same time?
“And another thing: Next time you get an oil change, don’t get that low-grade stuff, you cheapskate.”
I would rather have my driving experience back. All of it. No GPS for me.
And while you’re at it, Detroit, bring back that thin, wide horizontal slot so I can play my dadgum CDs.