Great Moments in Vehicular Idiocy
A mostly true tale of small town automotive feats.
In the middle of New York State, near the Pennsylvania border, lies the town of Big Flats. It was the perfect testing ground in the 1950s through the early 1980s for teenagers to drive cheap, junk cars in ridiculous ways.
I’m not going to lie, when we were younger, my friends and I were Motor Morons, Driving Dunces, Stick Shift Simpletons, and generally Country Road Clowns.
Used cars were cheap and apparently the value parents placed on their rotten teenagers’ lives was even cheaper.
“Don’t worry, we’ll make another.” was the mindset of some of my friend’s parents whenever they handed the car keys over to Junior on a Friday night.
This kind of Laissez-faire attitude might sound pretty shocking to those of you born either post 1990, or who could never escape from under the scrutiny of a Helicopter parent, but that’s how things were in the open spaces of upstate New York where cops were few and far between.
Back then you could also still get lost driving since there weren’t such things as GPS guides yet. You either had a Rand McNally roadmap, or you just winged it based on sun shadows, sparse road signs, and which side of the tree the moss grew on.
In a way today’s loss of directional self-reliance is kind of sad.
That sense of satisfaction from adventure and discovery is now dampened when you have Siri or Google as your dictatorial co-pilot.
Speaking of road direction bots, this past weekend on the drive from Vancouver, WA to the Oregon Coast, I made the mistake of using Google maps.
Am I the only one who finds it to be an annoying co-pilot?
While stuck in a slight slow-up, Google pesters you every 3 minutes with,
“There’s a 10 minutes slowdown up ahead. Would you like a faster route? Touch “Yes” to agree.”
Of course, if you’re like me, taking your hands off the wheel while zipping along at 60+mph to fiddle with a stupid phone seems like a very bad idea, so you let Google prattle on.
“You should take this exit for a faster route. Touch “Yes” to agree.”
Of course you know that if you take that advice, it eventually leads to an even slower route to the coast, so you keep driving.
Over the next 10 miles you then hear repeatedly, “At the next exit, turn off and make a U-turn.”
It’s as if Google is purposely trying to make you crash, drive you insane, or both. You angrily grab the phone and toss it to the backseat where you hope Google will get the message.
But it just keeps blabbing away a series of demands and misdirections. You try turning up the radio to drown it out, except you remember it was using your car’s bluetooth audio. Google is now screaming at you:
“THERE’S A 5 MINUTE SLOWDOWN AHEAD! WOULD YOU LIKE A FASTER ROUTE? TOUCH “YES” TO AGREE.”
At the next rest stop you pullover, grab the phone from the back seat, and furiously toss it into the woods near the parking lot.
Afterwards, as you pop open the trunk, you remember that Rand McNally map you thought you left in the trunk was thrown out—shortly after you bought your smart phone.
You then spend the next hour searching the weeds for your phone while Google just sits there quietly waiting for you, without giving you a hint of where it is.
May your summer travels be self-directed, filled with adventure, and free of vehicular idiocy.
Have a story about driving, discovery and/or getting lost? I’d love to hear it.
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