The lease was about to expire on my car. I thought it could be renewed the way I did with my library books — but no. It was either buy it outright or get another brand-new car lease.
I considered that there were already too many dashboard gadgets on my Chevy, and I had just about finished memorizing the locations of the necessary ones to keep me gainfully road-ready — lights, heater, windshield wipers, air conditioner, defroster, etc. The others I had lived without.
Since this would probably be my last car because of age limitations (I'm 91 years old), I decided to make a car statement while I was still able to state. I was flirting with the idea of a high-end luxury “something” that would be the envy of anyone who was into envy. My vision of this new high-end, enviable vehicle was a minimal, almost gadget-less, dashboard. What a pipe dream that was!
All the new models were on dashboard overload. First of all, there was no ignition key — just “press a button.” I felt like I was pressing a doorbell. By the time I found the windshield wiper button, it would probably have stopped raining. All those other buttons designed to protect me from demolition were, to me, invitations for imminent disaster.
After backing out of driveways for 69 years without hitting a curbside mailbox, did I really need a moving Technicolor-like diagram of my driveway? A brief scan of the hernia-inducing manual was challenging — so challenging that even a mini manual, guaranteed to simplify, needed a translator for clarification.
I found the solution! I would just lease the same model Chevy again with the same gadgets — and it would be three years newer. Surprise, surprise! New items have been added to the dashboard, but I could ignore them. My old ones were still there.
At my age, with most of my driving miles behind me, I could still drive a bit longer. Staying in the granny lane and following the proper speed limit was essential now because any type of vehicle-damaging encounter would be my fault. No matter that the other young driver had just returned from a court hearing for a major traffic infraction. (I still haven’t figured out why the fellow granny-lane travelers behind me don’t know the posted speed limit and insist on putting their horns to good use.)
After the new lease was signed, I was the proud “owner” of a bright blue Chevy. On my maiden voyage home, a small upset did occur. I unknowingly hit the seat-heat button, which I didn’t know I had. As the warm glow embraced my lower half, I thought incipient kidney failure had finally arrived.
But no — all was well. I arrived home, pulled into the garage and spent considerable time checking that nothing was moving or making sounds anymore. As the saying goes, “Slept heavy in my Chevy.”
A postscript: My first car, a 1937 Dodge DeSoto with two seats in front, a rumble seat (consult grandparents), wipers, brake, shifter, clutch, gas pedal and key, was purchased for $150 in 1950. It was sold for $25 in 1952. And there was no manual.
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