Writing about self-driving cars last month got me thinking about what it would actually be like riding around in a car that thinks it’s smarter than me. I imagine it couldn’t help but have an attitude. I don’t think I would like it. Yes, it would be nice to be able to fill out a deposit slip for the bank without having to drive at the same time. You could send a text message or get a Kleenex out of the glove box to blow your nose without almost having a wreck, eat a cheeseburger or read a book, but I actually like driving. Nothing beats the experience, enjoyment and autonomy of driving. For me the perks of getting behind the wheel of a car has always been about freedom. It’s fun and I especially like being in control. For instance, if I am behind an old man in his 82 Buick Lesabre driving along at 27 miles per hour on a two lane highway will the self-driving car swerve into the next lane, floor it and zoom past him like I would? I doubt it. I would be stuck there, powerless, lumbering along behind Mr. Pokey Pants trying to meditate on the virtues of tolerance while my blood pressure rises to dangerous levels. I have to say, there is something very satisfying about flying past a slow poke driver and then skidding back in front of them yelling something like, “Eat my dust sucker,” as you disappear over the horizon. I don’t think I could take it.
And what if I want to drive through my neighbor’s yard? (Hey, don’t judge. I had my reasons.) What I don’t need is some smart mouth on board computer telling me I’m off course. I’m on MY course smarmy computer, you can just mind your own business. Can it tell if the car is sliding down the driveway on the ice right toward a lady in a white Chevy Cruz who is looking at you in slack jawed horror as your smart ass car is advancing toward her at an alarming speed? Would it have the presence of mind to figure out that it can turn the wheels just in time to slide off into the grass and avoid plowing into the side of her car, no I don’t think so.
Will it honk at the lady with the “I Believe in Fairies” bumper sticker to go when the light turns green? And what about that Yaris in front of you that has been driving along for ten miles now with its turn signal on? Would the car that thinks it knows everything be able to conclude that it’s more than likely just someone, perhaps like me, that just doesn’t realize their blinker is on and has no intention of turning any time soon? Will it have the nerve to make an illegal U-turn? No, no and no.
Will these cars open and close the door for you so you no longer have to struggle with the door that wants to close on you while you are trying to unload groceries, but then refuses to close once your arms are full forcing you swing at it with your leg, pulling a groin muscle in the process after which you hobble off towards the house mumbling bad words under your breath? And if they can manufacture a car that drives itself why can’t they make a trash can that will take itself out to the curb? Now that’s something I could really use.
And this is something disturbing to think about… As self-driving cars become more the norm, the idea that a friend or family member may arrive dead at your house will be a reality…yeah I know, creepy isn’t it? And it’s only a matter of time before there will be a country song about some guy’s truck that left him. People who trust self-driving cars have obviously never had an automatic toilet flush while they were still on it. Until they can fix that problem I think I will stick with my car and the glove box that pops open every time I hit a bump or the sun visor that won’t stay in the holder which was a source of embarrassment to me just the other day as I was sitting a four-way stop on Ashland. I spotted an ex-boyfriend of mine at the intersection. I smiled and waved coyly. He smiled and waved back. Then it was my turn to go. In my attempt to appear like a had something going for me, still waving and trying to look cool, I took off too fast in first gear and squealed the tires. My car lurched forward into the intersection which made the sun visor come loose and just as I was doing my best ‘come hither’ look, it swung around and hit me right in the face. I’m almost sure he wants me back now more than ever.