My First New Car
A few months ago I bought my first new car. The number of choices to be made seemed a little ridiculous. I walked into the dealer knowing I wanted a green Ford Focus sedan, only to find out there were half a dozen models that fit into that category – Focus LX, LX Premium, SE, SE Comfort, ZTS, blah blah blah, and a couple shades of green.
In addition to the car model and color choices were decisions on options packages. And having seen the "pimped out" SUVs on MTV Cribs, complete with two or three LCD screens (one in the dashboard for the driver, of course), DVD player, speakers costing more than my college education, GPS navigation systems similar to those used in the Space Shuttle, heated seats, and 20 inch chrome wheels, my eyes were wide with opportunity. After checking on financing and whittling down the alternatives to what I might really need or want, I ended up with the most basic of standard packages.
Even the standard package in my car seems excessive. Three years ago, remote locks, power adjustable side mirrors, and advanced heating systems were a luxury, but today they are standard package necessities. My cup holders are adjustable to a few sizes, accommodating everything from an eight ounce coffee to a gluttonous fifty-two ounce Extreme Big Gulp. The stereo has twenty plus presets (with the large panel display of the
call sign, not just the radio frequency), an option to scan through channels searching only for stations playing a specified music genre, and of course adjustable treble and bass, which I'll never touch. The car manual, which had more pages dedicated to the stereo than the rest of the automobile, revealed a clever feature where I can program a volume for the radio to reset to when the car is started. So even if I'm rocking out to Manfred Mann's "Do Wah Ditty Ditty" on volume level thirty when I turn off the car Saturday night, Sunday morning's drive can greet me with NPR's "Weekend Edition" on level eight.
It's fascinating to reflect on the progression of technology in the car — and in our lives for that matter — and how it continues to have a changing impact on society. Each advance seems to be building up so that our busy lives have minimal interruption; the car is not simply a means of transportation, but also an office, a theater, and a dining room. Getting from here to there doesn't have to be a hassle or an interruption to the work day, since people can continue what they were doing to before they got in their car, or do whatever they might be doing if they didn't have to be in the car. You can schedule a conference call on your cell phone while commuting, or have a computer read your email and trade stocks real time through OnStar's Virtual Advisor while picking the kids up from school. The more technology eliminates tiny disruptions in our lives, the more it become a necessity rather than a novelty. Remember, the popular use of cellular technology began in the early nineties as...