Look, we’ve all lived long enough to watch the world race on, and that surely includes technology. The question is, have we baby boomers raced on with it? From San Francisco, longtime columnist Nick Hoppe is trying. Sort of.
I was buying a Ford, not a Tesla or a Ferrari. So I felt pretty safe when I told the salesman I wanted all the bells and whistles available.
Little did I know what I was getting into when I drove off the lot a couple of weeks ago in my new Ford Edge. Surely this All-American motor vehicle company couldn’t compete with the technology available in the more expensive brands. I was getting good old home cooking.
I figured I could handle whatever they threw at me. I like technology, to an extent. Power windows were a fine improvement 80 years ago. Then along came cruise control about 60 years ago. A little more difficult to understand, but I eventually figured it out.
Now you need a PhD in electrical engineering to figure out all the nuances in the latest models. Even old diehards like Ford have to impress their buyers with the latest innovations. And I am here to say that sometimes I wish for the simpler days of yore.
I first realized I was in trouble when they set me up with Ford Pass, which allows you to start the car remotely, among other things. That’s not going to happen, unless I go into politics and start making a lot of enemies.
Then there’s the control panel. With the help of the owner’s manual, I finally figured out how to set the radio stations. It wasn’t easy, but I muddled through, leaving the more complicated settings for another time.
Once on the road, I turned on my heated seats and put it into cruise control. I marveled how the car slowed down automatically when the traffic slowed in front. Irritating and uncomfortable, but very safe.
Then I accidentally pushed the button for automatic steering. Just like the self-driving cars of the future, my newfangled machine stayed in its lane, steering itself. It was very unsettling.
However, modern man that I am, I adjusted. I cautiously took my hands off the steering wheel and let the future take over.
Apparently, the future is not quite ready. Alarms went off, and a graphic on the control panel ominously read “KEEP YOUR HANDS ON THE STEERING WHEEL!”
No one was around to hear me, but I didn’t care. “IF I HAVE MY HANDS ON THE STEERING WHEEL, I MIGHT AS WELL DRIVE!” I shouted.
I lost that battle. Not only did it insist I hold the wheel, I had to hold it harder than I usually do. Otherwise, the alarm would sound again. The future was not looking good.
Nevertheless, I didn’t give up. There were at least six more buttons that would complicate my life, and I was determined to find out what they would do. But before I could investigate, I walked out of my house the other morning and discovered I couldn’t open the door of my new car.
The electronic code on the outside (now there’s a great invention) wouldn’t work, the key fob wouldn’t work, and there was no lock to insert a regular key. I went on my phone where they installed Ford Pass, and it said my car was in “Deep Sleep Mode” and it couldn’t open it, either.
I called the dealer, not very happy. “Hmmm. I’ve never heard of Deep Sleep Mode,” he said. “Let me check with service.”
No one had heard of it. After an hour of back and forth (no exaggeration), and the help of a texted video, I managed to open the door. There was a secret way to do it that no one would ever imagine.
Once inside, Deep Sleep was everywhere. The steering wheel was locked, all other doors were locked and couldn’t open, and the car was worthless. After another hour of frustration, the dealer said to have it towed to their service department and they would try and figure out what Deep Sleep meant.
Technology was winning. A special tow truck was summoned (remember, the steering wheel was locked), and the nice gentleman showed up another hour later.
“It’s in Deep Sleep Mode,” I explained. “Another technological glitch.”
“Did you check the battery?” he asked.
I humored him. He clearly didn’t understand the complexities of new technology. Deep Sleep Mode was way beyond him. He’ll learn someday, like the rest of us.
Imagine my surprise when the stupid car erupted when he put the charge on it and pushed the Start Engine button. No longer in Deep Sleep Mode, it roared to life.
I just shook my head. No one knows why the battery went 100% dead. No one knows why it’s called Deep Sleep Mode. I don’t even care anymore.
I just put my hands on the heated steering wheel and drove away, enjoying my love/hate affair with technology.
Nick Hoppe’s latest book is, “Some Books Aren’t Meant To Be Sold: A Collection of Humor Columns.”