Through a series of unplanned events, I purchased a new vehicle, new washing machine and new dryer in the span of three weeks. My only saving grace was the hesitation to purchase a new phone. Three new techie items in three consecutive weeks are not a good equation in the learning curve factoring in five decades on earth. Silly me, I assumed turnkey purchases were just that—turn a key (or knob) and get on with your business. Back in 2008 maybe, but in 2018 it is a whole new world in the start and go.
I am a vocal advocate of NEVER text and drive. I am about to be the poster child for the obituary that reads, “The vehicle ploughed full speed into the side of the building. No sign of brakes or skid marks noted in the police report. The vehicle was recorded announcing ‘Impact pending! Impact pending!’” I drive a smart car; Not by choice, but this is the 21st Century, and some "nerd" millennial designed the unmotivated driver’s travel plan with vehicles that tell you what you should do next. My poor car tries its best to guide me safely about the inattentive roadways. Messages are constantly flashing that I am too close, too far to the left, veer to the right, email waiting to delivered, voice text can be delivered with the touch of a button, satellite radio is signalling no signal, the door is ajar, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Texting is less distracting while driving (I would assume) than trying to figure out where the speedometer is located and how much gas I have left in the tank. Most of the time, as my vehicle is moving forward, I cannot figure out if I am approaching a red traffic signal or if my car is flashing a warning. I stop more than I start. Numbers flash at me with MPG’s, ETA’s, WTF’s and more acronyms than I can absorb. I touch some screen looking for a radio station and the rear hatch pops up. This is why old people drive so slowly—they cannot focus on the road for all the chaos on the dashboard.
Dashboards now occupy the top of everyday appliances. My new washing machine is really a washing computer. Gone are the days of turning the knob to cold, hot water; fast, slow agitation; high, low spin. Now I must push an odd-looking symbol (took me two days to find the right symbol for start) and wait for a series of complicated columns to light up. Next, I must select cool, cool-cold, cold-cold, warm-cold, cool-hot, etc. That deliberation is followed by a water level discussion based on the tub balance. Next is the spin options followed by the steam options. That does not include how long it took me to locate the detergent dispenser, the fabric softener pouch and the bleach defuser. Took me another day to locate all the secret drawers to dump liquids. Then when I remembered what I forgot, the lid was locked tight and unwilling to reopen. What happened to dump everything in at once, waiting for the loud banging sound to stop and then tossing everything into the dryer?!
Finally, with my eyes spinning in different directions, I bravely approach the dryer. She sat there innocently enough waiting to be punched by a very frustrated amateur operator. This time I was familiar with the odd symbol that represented the ‘on’ feature. Once again, this gal was way more complicated than the old chicks I was used to turning on. . . .to dry! The dashboard lit up blinding me with options for shrinking my cotton, wrinkling my synthetics and losing one sock. I just closed my eyes, randomly pushed things and stood back waiting for it to explode. Nothing happened. This is a two-turn-on babe. Pays to read her manual. The left side turn-on is the options start. The right-side turn-on is the tumbler start. Turns out the turn-on for me was dry towels in under 30 minutes!
With any luck, all these technical contraptions will operate with little need for attention from me. I hope and pray the computer chips stay dry, all the little lights continue to light up and when I hit the right buttons at the right time, something turns on and runs. I have come to enjoy the chimes and bells and hums of all this technology that just a few months ago were machines that rattled, dinged, and made funny noises at high speeds. I fear the wrangling that will evolve as things need adjustments and repairs, but for now, I will take a deep breath, keep my eyes open and just push one button at a time.