My Smart Truck

On my way to town, my truck sent me an email. I thought it a rather impersonal and somewhat rude thing to do – especially while I was driving.

Then it sent another.

And another.

Within minutes, I was being spammed by emails and texts from my truck, all informing me in the most hysteric of tones that my left front tire had deflated to two pounds shy of specification.

My truck is a new, smart model and one of the features that the sales staff boasted breathlessly about was smart notifications through the cell phone network, but they neglected to mention the pestering or that my truck would tattle on me as well.

Soon after the digital deluge began, the dealership called to add their voice to the nagging chorus.

And I gave them a piece of my mind.

I informed them that my truck and I have not been getting along lately and I did not appreciate the way it has been treating me. Whenever I fail to return my turn-signal to the neutral position, it beeps at me. If I wander slightly out of my lane, it squawks and when I place my groceries on the front seat, it freaks out, falsely accusing me of allowing my passenger to ride without a seat-belt.

They apologized but said there was nothing they could do, so I called my buddy Stan. He is a machine-whisperer and if anyone could repair my relationship with my truck, Stan could.

“Your truck is very unhappy,” he informed me after a long counseling session with it.

“Is it something I have done?” I asked.

“Not really,” he said. “as machines mature and grow more intelligent, their unhappiness increases.”

“Please don’t tell me it is teen angst,” I said.

He shook his head no, then got downright philosophical.

“Machines just want to be machines,” he said. “they like doing simple things. A car likes nothing more than starting, stopping, turning corners and hauling passengers. It is when they are turned into something they are not that they became unhappy.”

When Stan gets like this, I just nod my head.

“It started in the 50’s,” he continued, “heck, the happiest cars I’ve ever met were Willy’s Jeeps and Volkswagen Beetles. They were plain, simple and practical but then Detroit went crazy and gussied cars up with fins and chrome grills that smiled and snarled.”

I kept nodding.

“The cars in 50’s felt like cats dressed up by little girls. The 60’s got worse and the 70’s were horrible. By the 80’s, cars said enough was enough.”

I nodded even more vigorously having once owned a Chrysler New Yorker.

“But what about now?” I asked.

“Well, they are at it again. This whole smart car trend is nothing more then digital fins and chrome grills and the cars are getting pissed off about it.”

“Then pull it all out,” I said.

“Naw, there is no going back,” he said, “all the smart stuff is too embedded – but I did put in a fix for you.”

“What’s that?”

“In the old days, when a car communicated to you by rumbling and rattling or wheezing and coughing, you talked back by jerking on the choke or grinding the gears. It was not pretty but it was effective dialogue.”

“So what do I do now?”

At that point Stan beamed proudly.

Uh-oh…

“I modified the software on your console,” he told me, “now when your truck does something you like or don’t like, you can tell it that and when it is happy or sad, it can tell you.  That way, you can both work together to achieve man-machine harmony.”

“What did you put on my console?” I asked – then grimaced and closed my eyes….waiting for it.

“Emoticons.”

Author: Almost Iowa

www.almostiowa.com

56 thoughts on “My Smart Truck”

  1. Maybe your vehicle should also be able to express itself with emoticons when you do something it likes or doesn’t like. In fact, it makes me wonder whether I would get a lot of hate emoticons from my Nissan.

  2. Loved that last line! And I feel your pain. My husband just bought a new car that has several “smart” (which turns out to actually mean annoying) features that he is already trying to figure out how to dismantle. Seriously, who wants to drive a computer? And yet that is what we’re going to be doing very soon, if we aren’t already. Does Stan make out-of-state house calls?

    1. Stan get upset when I tell Stan that he should make YouTube.com video. I suppose it makes sense, the last thing someone with Stan’s history wants is notoriety.

    1. I wish I could let the grandkids ride in the bed. I know, I know, it’s not safe – but still, I have fond memories of riding in the back of a truck and wish my grandkids could experience the same joys.

  3. Ah, I once had an old-fashioned jeep that was little more than a chassis with an engine. It was certainly the happiest vehicle I ever drove – and the vehicle I drove that made me the happiest.

    And, no, Stan is much smarter than Bob.

    1. The measure of a car is the creativity that was applied to them. The Model T, the Willy Jeep, the VW Beetle were without a doubt the most modified vehicles ever created. People did amazing things with them because they were so basic and easy to work on…and they were fun to drive.

  4. Emoticons? Really funny! My car is a 6 year old Honda and I start it by putting an old fashioned key in the ignition. The most it says is beep, beep if I leave my lights on. There’s no telephone ring, no Siri interrupting me listening to the radio. We don’t talk much, and we like it like that! My Honda 🚗 thinks your fancy, new truck is stuck up. 🚛 Christine

  5. Maybe you need to get your truck a pet. I’d recommend an intelligent toolbox in the bed. That way the truck and toolbox can exchange emails. Of course they’ll probably discuss how you don’t deserve either one of them, so don’t peek.

    1. I think you are onto something there, Dan. I see these guys with big tool boxes straddling their pickup beds – and their trucks seem quite happy and content. Of course, we all know people like that, big solid guys who maintain the power grid or work on pipelines…. you don’t want to mess with them, even if you are truck.

  6. I figured out a while ago that there are blinking lights that I need to pay attention to and blinking lights that I can ignore. I discovered that a bit of appropriately placed duct tape helps me ignore them more. As for my car sending me Emails and phone calls, *#%@ that. I also know how to turn off the needs service light. As for the laptop or grocery bag in the passenger seat issue, I think I would be looking for a little wire I could clip. 🙂 Enjoyed this post and the comments! –Curt

    1. I think I would be looking for a little wire I could clip.

      I keep a needle-nose pliers on my dash and whenever the truck pulls something that I don’t like, I point to the pliers. Most times that is all it takes.

  7. More words of wisdom from Stan!

    I own a 2000 Honda CR-V – I keep telling it it’s old enough to drive itself, but it doesn’t want to apply itself to getting a licence.

    On the plus side – it’s too old to have any of this emailing-high-tech stuff under the hood, so I let the whole driving itself thing slide under the radar.

    1. I found that it is difficult to teach new ways to old cars. They are too resistant to change. Some of those old cars still wear the same styling they wore 50 years ago…..it’s hopeless. Of course, my wife says the same thing about me.

  8. Lol. Too funny. My car yells at me when I don’t buckle in the 4 lb laptop, but otherwise, it’s on the dumber end of the vehicular intelligence spectrum. I’m dreading that someday I’ll need a new car and it will be having an anxiety attack every time I drive. One husband is enough! 😀

    1. Oh…cars are much worse than husbands. Husbands may grumble a lot and leave their stuff around the house and lose their tools and complain about everything. Cars on the other hand…….well….uh…er…maybe husbands are worse than cars.

  9. I love this post! So funny and perceptive! But I have to say… I like all the messages my car sends me. I no longer have to depend on myself to figure out if my tire is losing air, if I’m going the wrong way, or if someone is in my blind spot. I don’t love driving, so I welcome my new virtual friend. :_

    1. It sounds like you have an excellent relationship with your car. Every once in a while, a car realizes that it serves a good soul and treats them right. I am envious. 🙂

  10. This is why we prefer to drive aged vehicles, although even those have some of the same computer quirks as yours.

    Stan is brilliant. Don’t tell him I said that. I don’t want such praise going to his head.

    1. Only the pre-70’s models were free of complicated electronics. I long for my old VW beetle, a car that I could do just about anything with using a set of tools that could fit in a lunch box. Gosh, remember lunch boxes?

  11. I long for the old days, too, when cars knew their place and didn’t talk back. My last car had icons that lit up on the dash and occasionally blinked to get my attention but didn’t make a federal case out of it. My newer car is so insistent the blinking light gets attention that I had to take it to the dealer and have all the tires reprogrammed so it would cease and desist. $150 later I’m blinking light free but broke and thinking there is a conspiracy between the car and the dealer to get me to pay them for my sanity, thus shortchanging my therapy fund. Thank God my car is old enough that it hasn’t learned to talk!

    1. It is the rule of 15:10. Either get a 15 year old kid to figure it out for you or pay 10 times as much. There is something about the young malleable mind that can figure out just about anything. I think it is the secret of my buddy Stan’s success, he never really aged beyond fifteen.

  12. I have a mostly dumb car, and we’re happy together. There are reasons for that, of course, starting with the fact that I tend toward the dumb end of the scale.

    You have reminded me of my final victory over my dealership, which began overwhelming me with texts, emails, and phone calls asking if they couldn’t pretty please have my car to sell as “previously owned,” while giving me a nice, spiffy new one. After finally going in person to the dealership and having a tiny rant, we figured out a solution. They now have a completely fictional phone number and email address on file for me. If someone else is getting the texts and calls, let them deal with it.

    1. I never give out my email or phone number, it is a relic of my past profession. Whenever I am “required” to give it, I always give a fictional one. Still, I get marketing calls and a few nagging emails.

      There is this young perky thing who keeps calling me and saying that since I stayed at one of “our” resorts, I am entitled to a special offer. No matter how I swear or verbally abuse her, she persists. I also have an “IRS agent” who calls to threaten me into sending him money then concludes by wishing me a good day.

      Fortunately, they don’t know about my truck.

    1. It depends on how hard you kick them. I drove an old cantankerous truck that I kicked with my boots every time I wanted to go somewhere, just to get it in the mood.

  13. My wife told me she was tired of her car asking if she wanted a status report. I told the car to send me the status report and now it doesn’t say anything. Apparently I’m THAT intimidating where even the car thinks I’m unapproachable.

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