By today’s standards, my vehicle is pretty old school. No Bluetooth or Wi-fi, no fancy controls on my steering wheel. If a vehicle gets into my personal space on the highway, there’s no light or sound to indicate impending disaster. Just good old peripheral vision and a collection of expletives set aside for such occasions. It’s a no-frills ride, which suits my needs at the moment.
I used to have an Acura Integra that had what passed for a high-tech safety feature at the time–an automatic seat belt. This mechanism ensured you buckled up before takeoff. Once you closed the car’s front door, the seatbelt would glide from a forward position to one over your shoulder, snugly securing you in your seat. You then merely had to engage the lap belt for full coverage, which I dutifully did after reading horrific tales of decapitations from exclusive shoulder belt use. *gulp*
It was a brilliant feature.
Until it wasn’t.
Cut to grandma settling into the passenger seat for a lift to ladies’ lunch. Sweet Jeebus, you’d better be sure her heart meds are on board before closing that door. The concept of this maniacal belt snaking its way over her head to points beyond could be unnerving for someone who was still getting used to the concept of an electric oven. Transporting such individuals required building in an extra 10 minutes for explanation, regrouping, and general counseling purposes.
Admittedly, it managed to startle even me on occasion. Reaching in to help frightened passengers sometimes led to an unexpected knock in the head. An ill-timed kiss goodbye through that window could prove catastrophic.
God forbid you pulled up to a stop light and needed to open the door a few inches so you could expectorate that coffee-ground laden final sip from your travel mug’s morning brew. The seatbelt sprung into action, mistakenly thinking it was time for bodily extraction, and engaged you in what amounted to a stranglehold. With any stroke of good luck, the light didn’t turn green before you regained consciousness and untangled your melon from the belt’s deadly embrace.
There was also no peeking out the door to ensure you’d angled correctly inside the lines of a parking space. That sucker dutifully rocketed to the forward position and locked up your cranium faster than you could say, “full nelson.” I suppose it was the price I paid for technology.
I think I’ll stick with simplicity for now. Fewer bleeps and bloops and wrestling moves on board. If you see me on the road, give a friendly tap of the horn before drifting in my general direction, m’kay? I’m cruising low-tech up in here.