Sunday, July 24, 2016

Push-button modernity, or New stuff that doesn't work

I was sitting in the car at a Publix parking lot while my wife was inside, getting a cake for fellowship Sunday at her church. Ever other fellowship Sunday since we moved here, she cooked something, but everybody is allowed a store-bought food item now and then.

Across the way, I noticed a woman getting into a car that had the hood raised. She sat and kept the door open and got out her cell phone. I thought, “Probably I can’t do anything to fix whatever her problem is, and Priscilla will be back soon with the cake and we’ll need to go.” By then the woman had finished her phone call and was looking at the owner’s manual. “On the other hand,” I thought, “if I don’t go over and at least see what the problem is, I’ll be forever telling myself I should have, and there’s the possibility it’s something minor I might be able to help with.”

As I got near the car, I heard a click-click-click noise. I asked the woman, “What’s it not doing?”

She replied, “Yesterday it wouldn’t shut off, and now it won’t start.”

I said that the not shutting off was most likely a fuel problem, a fuel-sensing problem these days.

She got out and we walked to the front of the car. The engine compartment was clean and new enough you can’t see anything that matters; everything has a bolted-down cover, either to hide the magic from non-guild members, or hidden so you’ll know not to mess with it, lest you call down wrath of falling wrenches.

The click-click-click continued at the backside of the engine. (It might have been set in sideways.)

The woman said, “It’s trying to start.” She said, “I mashed the brake and pushed the button, but nothing happened.”

I said, “It doesn’t have an ignition key.”

“No,” she said. “You mash the brake and push the button.”

“That is way too modern for me,” I said. “You got anybody you can call?” She said she had called her husband. I said, “Well, I’m sorry I couldn’t help any.”

“Thank you for asking,” she said.

I went back to my wife’s car and sat down and turned on the engine and air conditioner. In a few minutes, a small gray car pulled up beside the woman’s car. A man got out. He and the woman talked and then he opened the hatch on his car and took out what looked like a small tool box.

My wife arrived then with the cake. When we left, the man had his head in the engine compartment. My guess was, with a push-button car, he would wind up calling a dealership or a tow company. On a Sunday morning.

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