Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ox cart, meet space shuttle

Personal transportation has become an experience.

When we were on the road yesterday, I noticed that nobody had their car windows open. Back in the day, it was unusual to see a window closed. When you did, you'd know the lucky son-of-a-bitch had air conditioning.

My first car, which belonged to my grandparents for years prior to being sold to my Aunt Sharon, then being kindly donated to me, was a 1965 Dodge Coronet.

Let me describe the "experience" of driving it: Get in, bypass the seatbelt (they were long buried in the crack and would have required an archaeologist to remove) and adjust the seat. (the entire bench moves) Start the car and let the engine warm up a little so it won't stall.

Turn the AM radio on. Listen to the crackle and broken signal for a few seconds. Slap the dashboard to try to make the radio work. Give up and turn it off, since it hasn't worked properly for years. Put the car in drive and go. Use a map to get where you're going, or stop at a gas station for directions.

That's it. No air conditioning, no radio, nothing. It was simply a means of getting from point A to point B.

Fast foward to today's experience: get the baby's diaper bag, bouncer and other equipment ready to go. From inside the house, click the auto-start button on the van and get the cabin temperature to 68 before stepping out into the heat.

Push a button to open the doors, load the stuff in. Get in, set the GPS to our destination address and watch as it reroutes us based on real-time traffic conditions. (a new Sirius feature)

Back out of the driveway with the help of the reverse camera and object sensing radar. Either hit 'play' on the iPod, choose a playlist from the 30 gig hard drive built into the vehicle, turn on Sirius radio, play a DVD or watch Sirius TV on one of the three video monitors. (yes, they now have satellite television in vehicles)

Or you could go retro and choose AM or FM radio.

Make a phone call to your friends through the built-in microphone and speaker system (via bluetooth through the cell phone in your pocket), and let them know you're on the way.

Whoops, there was no time to use the breast pump before leaving, so plug it into the 115-volt outlet on the wall of the van and pump as you go. I'll try to avoid driving alongside an 18-wheeler at this time, since they can see right into the vehicle.

That was us yesterday. Next year, Chrysler will have broadband internet service built into their vehicles, with WiFi. Each equipped vehicle will be its own "hot spot."

Personal transportation has definitely changed.... it's the freakin' Jetsons. Sometimes I just want to turn everything off, roll down the windows and drive. "Jane! Stop this crazy thing!!!"


Paula said...

Okay, seriously, the breast pump? That would of been a funny site!!

I remember one of my cars had the push type buttons for the radio...they never quite aligned right so all I got was bits of songs... This was the same car that had no in the winter when I had to scrape the inside of the windows.

Jen, Fred, Jennifer said...

I was just thinking about the whole window thing. I guess mom would've liked air conditioning in our car when we were kids, it would've been good when Bill would throw his shoes out the open windows as mom drove down 79....

Violet said...

something humbling about driving down the highway with your tits being milked through plastic funnel-y things. at least i had a blanket over everything.