By Kathleen Floyd
I generally try to maintain a state of peaceful coexistence with the various electronic marvels that we have allowed to invade our house.
Actually I have grown almost fond of my old computer which I use primarily as a word processor. Pushing a delete button surely is easier than erasing and retyping an error. And when the computer seems to be getting uppity with me I just pull its plug until it cools down.
Another improvement I like is our telephone. The most called numbers are programmed in and can be dialed by pushing one button. The down side is I have to look up my own children’s numbers if someone else asks for them.
My favorite feature on the phone is the disembodied voice that says, “Please answer,” when the phone rings. If I don’t hear the voice I know the ringing phone is on TV, and the voice never fails to get a noticeable reaction when visitors are here and someone calls.
When we got our new vehicles last year they were equipped with key rings that had buttons to push to unlock them. When my arms are full, I just point and click, and it’s “Open sesame!”
The first week we had the car I wondered if my button would unlock other car doors and trunks.
Then one evening we went out for supper to a small restaurant with a small parking lot. While the guys paid the bill we gals went out to the car. It took them awhile so my willing accomplice and I walked through the lot clicking my opener at every car trunk. It didn’t work.
However, as we drove to the next stop we heard a peculiar thumping. When we got out of the car, Bill walked around to check and we heard him wondering, “How the heck did our trunk get open?”
The new pick-up truck not only has the lock-unlock feature on the key ring, it also has a panic button. I knew from the first time I saw it that eventually that button would mean disaster.
Bill showed me how it worked from our front porch. “Now suppose you can’t find the truck when you finish shopping.”
I could certainly identify with that. I had to walk home one time because I couldn’t remember where I parked.
“All you have to do,” he continued, “is push this red button.” He pushed the button and the horn began to blow and the headlights began to flash.
It was impressive, and very noisy. “How do you turn it off?” I asked.
He pushed the button and it was quiet again. “Go ahead,” he encouraged, “try it.”
“I don’t think so,” I explained, “I don’t think the neighbors would appreciate another go round.”
Just knowing I could push that panic button made finding the truck in big parking areas so much easier that I never had to use it.
However there came a day! I stopped at the Advocate office early one morning to drop off my column. As I walked past the front of the truck, keys in hand, something slipped, and all of the sudden the horn kept beeping and the lights kept flashing.
It sure woke up the guy in the next car. He regarded me and the truck with eyes that looked like exclamation points.
I kept frantically pushing the button that should have turned the thing off as I looked at him and shouted, “How do I turn this thing off?”
He stared back at me with a “stay away from me, lady” look.
Then it occurred to me that if I started the truck it would know I was there and shut up. I climbed in, turned the key, and sure enough, things were back to normal.
The whole experience didn’t bother me at all. I nonchalantly continued on my way, completing my errands—a very red-faced lady in a little green pick-up truck.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Advocate on Nov. 20, 1996.