Let’s take something as simple as an electronic key-fob. It’s that gadget your car-keys dangle from, the thing that allows you to lock and unlock your car from a distance.
It is a great feature to have, especially when someone you love says, “Did you remember to lock the car doors?”
You just give her the look.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she says, “you know I always have to remind you to lock doors.”
As she goes on and on about your failings, you reach deep into you pocket, press a button and the car emits a delightful chirp to tell her the case is closed. It saves a lot of nagging.
The same goes for finding your car.
Imagine this. You are pulling a long train of luggage through the long-term parking lot at the airport. In the bitter cold of January, each plastic wheel seeks its own direction and a steady blast of Arctic air welcomes you home from warmer climates.
You try to look like you know what you are doing but your spouse states the obvious, “I told you before we left on the cruise to write down the level and row where you parked the car – but would you listen? No! You never do!”
“What’s that?” She asks.
Laying it on thick, you say, “It’s our car, telling us it’s exactly where I thought it would be.” (So you were off by two levels and twenty rows – you still found the stupid car.)
That’s the good part of technology. Now for the bad part. As we all know, both technology and spouses have their dark side.
My wife likes to shop, about as much as I don’t. Whenever she goes to the mall, I take a thick book and settle on a bench outside.
So there I was a few weeks ago, enjoying the last warmth of autumn on my bench when Chirp!
The tone sounded too familiar. I got up and walked over to where I could see the car and sure enough, it was my flashers that were winking gently – Chirp! Chirp!.
I readjusted the key fob in my pocket. I must have butt-dialed it. Loose change does that sometimes.
“Beep!, Beep!, Beep!” Now the horn went off.
I pulled the fob out of my pocket to free it from any interference. Still, wink, wink, wink. The flashers were having a jolly good time.
I examined the fob to make sure none of the buttons were stuck. Boing! Now the trunk popped open. Obviously, something was wrong with the electronics in the fob, so I pulled the battery.
VROOOM! The car started on its own – then it all went completely nuts: chirping, beeping, boinging and VROOMING for no logical reason.
I raced across the lot to my car. I had to get inside and shut everything off but the doors were locked and having no keys, there was nothing I could do but stand there, looking like a fool while people stared at me. It was utterly humiliating.
I was in total panic. This was obviously more than an electronic issue, a mere mechanic would not suffice, this was a job for an automotive-exorcist – but where would I find one.
Most humiliating of all was the feeling of utter powerlessness, all around me, people were pointing at my car and laughing – then one particular laugh sounded through the sea of hilarity. It was my wife.
She was a few rows over, braced against a pickup truck so as not to fall over laughing. She held something small in her hand, working wildly at it with her thumbs – it was the spare key-fob.
Like I say, technology and marriage are supposed to make our life better – and I keep telling myself that.