Have you been in a traffic accident? The first thing you should probably do is check to see if another vehicle was involved. If yes, you’ve probably still got some kind of a shot. If not, you probably just screwed up big time.
A traffic accident with only one vehicle tends to be a problem. These are known as Single-Vehicle Accidents or SVAs. In such an accident the implication is that, short of other evidence, the accident was caused by operator error. Insurance companies typically assign fault to the driver in SVAs, short of acts of God, flying objects, etc.
Blinded by the sun? Too bad. You’re still operating a motor vehicle with great capacity to kill. Hit a pothole and cause $5,000 damage to your ride? Yeah, the city sucks but it’s still on you. Like it or not, in most cases, an SVA is usually the driver’s fault.
When I hear about an SVA it always makes me think.
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I’ve never been into fast cars. As far as I’m concerned, the male analogy stops right there. While the other guys were talking about engine blocks and rattling off weird nonsensical numbers and making lamps out of blocks of wood in shop class, I was taking “home economics” with 29 girls and learning how to sew my own apron and make chocolate chip cookies.
Yet, when it came to driving itself, suddenly I was interested. I just didn’t care what went on inside that thing. On my birthday and the day it became legal I obtained my learner’s permit. Exactly one year later I aced my driving test.
My dad taught me to drive. We practiced together in his car (an automatic) and my car (stick shift) which I had already bought with my own money. The car cost me $300, money which I had earned working part-time at a variety of local fast food establishments. It was a 1969 Pontiac LeMans hardtop. The driver’s door never opened, you had to slide across the one-piece seat from the passenger side, and the manual transmission was so wonky and loose that I eventually became the only human who could drive that baby. You had to perform little maneuvers while shifting, like lifting, twisting and pushing down to get it to go into gear. But that baby was mine.
I moved to the big city to live with my dad but I wanted to finish my senior year of high school in my little home town. So I became a commuter at the age of 18. My daily commute was a 30-mile drive (one-way) to school.
I enjoy driving. I’ve done a lot of it. It’s the one area of my life where I am the one percent unlike the 99% of other idiots on the road. My instincts and cat-like reflexes have kept me alive when most other idiots would have perished in a fantastic ball of fire.
And I’ve never forgotten one of the most basic principles my dad taught me about being a good driver on day one with my learner’s permit in hand: Drive so that you don’t impact other drivers on the road.
This is a story about a typical idiot who never received and/or heeded such critical training.
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This morning I woke up, just like I usually do. (I say “usually” because sooner or later there will be a day I don’t, but that’s another story.)
In the kitchen I sensed something was awry. It took a minute, but then I found it.
The microwave was blinking, rather angrily it felt like. It was blinking the word “END” over and over again.
I immediately took this as an omen. “The end is near,” I thought. “This does not portend well.”
I couldn’t resist the urge to stand there and gaze upon the thing before hitting the “clear” button. The thing had, apparently, been blinking “end” all night long. It was simply doing the job it was programmed to perform. I looked but nothing was inside. It must have been the result from its most recent task where the entire microwave was used as the world’s most expensive kitchen timer. I could only assume that the timed event had come and gone without great tragedy.
Lucky for us we didn’t use the timer on the oven or it would have been beeping reminders all night long. At least the microwave does it silently.
Still, it was enough to get me thinking. Here was a piece of technology that was only trying to help. Or scare the shit out of me.
On the other hand…
I’m the proud owner of a car that is possessed with a peculiar quirk. Ostensibly it’s a security feature of some kind, no doubt intended to prevent the theft of the vehicle.
But I know what it really is. It’s a gift sent from the nether regions of Hell to torment me on this plane of existence. A job it performs only too well.
The car can only be started with one key. (God help me if I ever lose that key. That’ll be a $500 mistake. Read on.) That key has a resistor built into it. Any attempt to start the car where the resistor is not properly detected results in the a message from Satan (see picture above) being displayed. As far as I know, there is no force in the known universe that can change that outcome for the next 180 seconds of my life.
Can you even imagine? You have someplace to go and here you are stuck in your car and forced to wait three interminable minutes. The only thing you can do is remove the key, re-insert it, and hope that it works on the next try.
This has happening to me for something like a year now. Sometimes this problem happens twice in a row. Or three times in a row. Or more! The current record is six in a row. That’s 18 minutes of my life gone that I’ll never get back.
I’d sure like to meet the person who invented this “feature” and give him a good look at this key. A very close look. Like through the back of his retina and beyond.
Never again in my life will I buy a vehicle without checking for “features” like these or any others I can possibly imagine. If a salesperson recommends a car with a feature like this I’ll take a test drive over his head. But even so, no doubt they’ll find other ways to get me. Remember the old days when you only had to worry about the mechanics of your vehicle? Why in the hell would you introduce another piece into the mix, a piece that, just like everything else on the car, is guaranteed to fail at some point in time?
I talked to the repair shop at the local authorized dealer. They said the feature can’t be disabled. I call bullshiats on that! Instead, they recommended I pay close to $500 to have the entire ignition stuff replaced which would also include a shiny new key. I’ve tried really hard and I can’t imagine any possible motivation for why they’d tell me a feature in their car can’t be disabled. Meh.
Being stuck in your car because of a design flaw when you have somewhere to be is one of the most frustrating and helpless feelings in the entire world. I know because that’s my daily existence.
But that’s just the way I roll. Or not, as the case may be.
Perhaps I know what the microwave was trying to say after all…