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My car is smarter than me

You’ve got to be kidding!

About four years ago, I wrote an article about the technology in a recently purchased car. Well, I have finally mastered the machinery, only to realize it’s again time to invest in a new set of wheels.

I expected little change in technology, but what a shock when I sat behind the wheel of the latest round of vehicles. Manufacturers claim it’s all about safety, but I know it is to prove that cars are smarter than I am.

When I received the call to pick up my shiny, new vehicle, to say it excited me was an understatement. I met with the salesperson and learned they had scheduled an hour long appointment for me to sit with a specialist who would explain the technology to me.

An hour? It’s a car and I’m already intimidated by my Smart Phone. My attention span is about three minutes, so imagine how terrified I was at the prospect of spending an hour with ‘an expert’.

They pushed buttons, verbal commands given, car controlling safety features shown, and they introduced new terminology, most of which, went right over my head. I felt perspiration form in my palms, in fear that they would ask me a question during this stressful experience.

They customized settings to my driving style, mirrors, seats, climate controls and much more. I tried to glance at the clock to see if I was nearing the end of my hour. Alas, not yet. They introduced me to a keyless whatever; a start button, which engaged the engine and, if I opened my door, automatically switched into park, shut the motor off and turned on the parking brake… I think (I hope).

Then the dreaded interrogation began: “Do you have any questions? The ‘specialist’s’ intimating face smiled at me. I feebly ushered a shy, ‘No’, and he suggested I walk upstairs where he would bring the car around. I quickly made my way back to the showroom, and my salesperson accompanied me to the front of the dealership.

After a short moment, my shiny, new vehicle arrived. The ‘expert’ stepped out, and I got in. They smiled, took a few photos and left me to my own devices. “I can handle this,” I thought, and I confidently pushed the start button. Nothing happened. I hit it again, but still nothing. I looked to see if anyone was watching and thankfully I was alone.

I frantically searched the six hundred page manual and fortunately discovered your foot has to be on the brake before the magic button will work. I complied and presto the engine came to life. Suddenly the seat pushed forward, the steering wheel tilted into my lap, and the mirrors moved out. It seems I had used the wrong fob to enter the car. I don’t even know what a fob is.

I am glad to say I have become more accustomed to my new mode of transportation. I have yet to locate the hood opening switch, or use the gps, but that’s ok. I can live without them, for a while. My big fear now is, I will need gas soon. I know I have a cover on the side of the car, but have no concept on how to get it open. Help!

Jonathan van Bilsen is a published author, award winning photographer, columnist and keynote speaker. Follow his adventures at

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