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Driving Myself Crazy: My New (Complicated) Car

I consider myself pretty adept at technology. Whether it’s the Wi-Fi going down at home, something new I want to do on my phone, or even something wonky on my computer, I can usually figure it out. My mindset is, what could I possibly do that would make it worse, or at least irreversibly worse?

So I was ready when I picked up my “new” (3 years old with some mileage on it) car last week. It felt like I had time-traveled about 100 years from the 8-year-old model I had been driving. And let me be clear, I still liked my old car. But when a kid needed a car to get back and forth from school, it made the most sense to sacrifice that vehicle and look at some options for dear old Mom.

Apparently, as far as cars go, I had been living in the dark ages.

First of all, I had a key for my old car. Yes, an actual key that you insert into the car to start the engine. Now, in my new car, I master keylessness pretty quickly—the locking, unlocking, starting. Check.

While I sit in the driver’s seat, the salesman runs through all the car’s features for about 30 minutes. At one point I look at him and say, “You know, I am a middle-aged woman and don’t know what I had for breakfast. I am probably retaining 30% of what you are telling me.”

He laughs ’cause he thinks I am exaggerating. I am exaggerating—it’s actually way closer to 10%.

He leaves, and I sit in the parking lot with my new car. I look for the control to open the sunroof—something I really wanted in this next car. It opens—yay, me. I can smell fall coming, but I am happy.

Wanting to confirm the Bluetooth is working, I initiate my first phone call. I dial from my (actual) phone and I hear my friend’s voice overhead. I am so savvy.

“Can I call you back in two minutes?” she asks.

“Of course.”

I pull out of the lot, radio on, sunroof open. I’ve got this.

The phone rings. I hear it overhead. Excellent—I am firing on all cylinders.

Suddenly, I realize I have no idea how to answer it. Ugh. I can see her number. I start yelling: “Hey, I’m here. Don’t hang up—I don’t know how to—”

Call gone.

Didn’t he say I just press the button to answer it? He said I can either press the button on the steering wheel or reach down to some other button on the dashboard.

I stare at the dashboard. It looks a lot like the spaceship dashboard I just saw in First Man with Ryan Gosling.

What are all these buttons for?

Do they do the same things as the ones on my steering wheel? Wait, what did he say about using voice activation? Why would I want to do that? And more importantly, how do I do that?

I am now my father—pushing every button on the dashboard and the second set of center console controls—’cause of course, having more buttons to push is better.

Then it occurs to me—I am supposed to understand all of this and drive the car? Is he kidding? I am so screwed.

If I could, I would voice-text the kid that took my car and ask for it back.

But—well, I don’t know how.

Stephanie Silverman

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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