My Dashboard

dashboard-empty-800pxIn the parking lot, she had a question.

“Must you swear?”

“It’s the only language your car understands,” I told her.

I was frustrated because she insisted we drive her car to her eye appointment and I drive it home.  Unlike my car, her’s fails to comprehend simple commands. I had flipped the headlights on but got the wipers instead. Now as we squabbled, the wipers hissed and thumped back and forth across a dry windshield.

“Getting angry doesn’t help,” she observed (which is precisely what I wanted to hear at that moment).

But perhaps she was right. Maybe anger does not work with her car – but it sure as hell works with mine. I swear at mine all the time and it swears back at me.

In the mind-numbing language of corporate-speak: we dialogue.

Every time I take a corner too fast, my car clucks at me. If I speed, it squawks and God help me if I fail to fasten a seat beat – then it shrieks hysterically until I buckle up.

But that’s okay – because it works the other way around too. Whenever it tells me that I am low on gas or in need of an oil change, I cuss at it, and every time it looses one of the presets on my radio, I tell it to do things that are anatomically impossible for a car to do.

But for the most part we get along because we are used to each other. It is when I use another car, like a rental or my wife’s car that I get into trouble.

You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult.

All cars have the same rudimentary interface. There is a wheel for steering and a pedal for stopping and a pedal for going.  But beyond that, everything is chaos. Every time you get into a strange car, the only thing that is the same is the disorienting drill of trying to figure out how the essential functions work.  

Every make and model is different, some have speedometers with needles that wag, others have bars that slide and some tell you how fast you are going by flashing digits.  Some have headlight controls on the turn signal arm – others use a switch, but the most frustrating of all features is cruise control: a perfectly usable function hidden behind a bewildering array of buttons, paddles, toggles and indicators – all specifically designed to take your eye off the oncoming cattle truck.

“We should have taken mine,” I told her.

She just rolled her eyes.  My truck was “too muddy”, so we took her car and that is what led to the state we were in – squabbling as the windshield wipers thudded back and forth.

“Lean over,” she said, “so I can see what’s going on.”

I obliged her.

“Oh!” she said and then:


She smacked the arm that controls both the wipers and the headlights.   I mean, she really clobbered it. The wipers immediately shut off and the headlights came on.

“You just have to know how to talk to it,” she said.

Author: Almost Iowa

47 thoughts on “My Dashboard”

  1. Since “All cars have the same “rudimentary interface,” you wouldn’t think it would be a big deal to drive a strange car. Funny how that is so untrue.

    1. Things fall apart in order to remind us of why a loving God created duct tape – and yes, God does have an irreverent sense of humor. He must have – it is the only way to explain why he created my buddy Stan. 🙂

      1. Oh, dear. I’m exhausted, still awake and trying to catch up on a few old WP friends (double-intendered–tee-hee! I’ve never seen that intended/entendered pun before–do you think that’s because it sorta stinks?)

        Anyhoo, your remark gave me quite the start because, in my exhaustion, my tired brain reverted to its natural dyslexic state and misread Stan as Satan. That would impugn that God has a sense of humor more than “irreverent”.

  2. I tend to say nice, encouraging things to my car. I don’t swear at it. I only ever drive my wife’s car to put gas in it or to get it serviced. We don’t speak, but I usually try to reassure it when I leave it at the dealer. Don’t worry, you’ll be OK.

          1. He is getting better. I can’t imagine why he thinks he needs to fuss in the first place. He has an imagined parking space in our garage for my car, and if I’m 2″ to the left or 2″ to the right… As it turns out, threatening to pull over and have him drive (for other “issues” that occasionally come up) works well enough to get him to stop complaining.

  3. That gave me a good laugh to start the day! Especially the WHAM! Photocopiers always act negatively to swearing. They jam even if the bad words are not directed at them. You just have to be in the same room.

  4. I hear ya. My sister an I argue about whose car to drive. I have a Matrix which is high enough that I can get in and out easily. Her car is a “….”. For me to get out I have to roll onto the ground and then get up on my hands and knees. Twice I have had to drive her car. Should have put the seat back first before I got in. Found the steering wheel attached to my breast bone. Then couldn’t find the gismo that lets you adjust the seat. I did manage to flip the seat back way back, then couldn’t reach the..nuff already. I do believe I muttered a few four-legged words on both occasions.

    1. That is almost exactly what is going on here. I have always driven small cars (now I have a truck) and my wife had a hard time getting into them. She has bad knees. But she also has long legs and likes to sit waaay back. It drives us both nuts to switch cars.

  5. My hubs take the opposite route. He talk so much nicer to his semis and equipment than he ever does to me —-“Come on beautiful, you can make it. It’s ok georgeous, I’ll take care of you…” Makes me wanna puke. Ha ha! 😊

    1. I never swear… except at my car… and when kids run across my grass.. and when Scooter chases my neighbor’s sheep… and when I can’t find my tools… and at the news.. and at the stupid &^%$ editorials in the newspaper… and at all those dim-witted, moronic, !@#$%

      But other than that, I rarely swear.

  6. My own wife is an unconscious random button presser…every time she takes an outing in my motor everything is different…I get to drive finding cruise control on; presets no more save for traffic info I don’t want; child locks on…anything and everything changed. When I swear she claims is was not of her doing!

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