Day 4 – What is a Treasure That’s Been Lost? Vehicle Simplicity

note: this is part of #bloganuary where each day in the month of January, there is a prompt that we can write on.

I really enjoy this exercise for this reason. I enjoy looking for the thought less traveled, at least for me I enjoy the brain exercise.

Simplicity is where my brain went this gloomy Ohio Morning. Specifically, the loss of treasured simple transportation. I have been around for many decades and have seen some amazing advancements. When I was younger, I was eager for technology. It was cool. I remember our excitement when we got our first push button telephone. When I was a senior in high school, our school got its first computers. I felt important carrying my first pager and when cell phones arrived and I got tired of waiting in line at a pay phone to return a message, I decided to be an early adopter of this really fantastic piece of technology. So many advancements have been made that are supposed to make life easier. But has it?

I am a car guy. I grew up being around the now classic Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang, the Corvette. Work trucks with three on a tree or four on the floor and a floor shifter that operated the 4X4. At one point vehicles had the basics – heat, a steering wheel, four wheels, and a motor. That was it. My first car was a 1981 Honda Civic, manual transmission and a radio. I had so much fun in that car. I never had an 8 track player in my car, but I remember when the 8-track to cassette tape converter came out and how cool you were if you had one. Then single CD players, multi-disc players housed in another part of the vehicle. After market radios with remote controls….

I had one of those and I remember Dawn being very vocal about how ridiculous it was that I had a remote for a radio that I could just reach over and operate. Whatever, I’m just cooler than you. HAHA.

In 1983 or 84, my mom and dad bought a new car, a Volkswagen. I remember how mad dad was that he had to have air conditioning because he wanted the diesel engine. All through the 80’s, a/c, power windows, even having an AM or AM/FM radio were usually options that you could choose to pay for.

Now, I am that guy that loves to jam tunes , sing loud with the windows down, play air drums, so to not have an upgraded radio in my vehicle would not be a consideration.

When you bought a car, you went in and negotiated a price. I remember when mom and dad bought the above vehicle and dad actually passing paper back and forth with the sales rep as each wrote a counter offer until an agreement had been reached. The car was simple, it got you from point to point, and you were off. Now, I know that upscale brands had more options in those days, but for the working class person looking for reliable transportation, the vehicles were simple.

Oh, but not any more. In 2017, Dawn purchased her second Honda Civic. Her previous was a 2003, 5-speed, AM/FM stereo, a/c, power windows, and a sunroof. It was simple and for nearly 250,000 miles it got her reliably from point A to B with minimal repairs and the original clutch. She decided, for obvious reasons, to buy another. This was also a manual transmission, this time a 6-speed. But to get the few options that she wanted, it required a package that included an upgraded radio. When we went to the dealer to pick up her new whip, the sales rep spent 45 minutes explaining,,,,,,,, just the main elements of the infotainment system!

Yes, the box in the center of the dash that used to play music in her pervious car, now runs her car. There are few buttons, but most operations are accessed via a touch screen. The buttons have been replaced with a variety of menu options that in some cases lead to more options. UGH. If I want to change the intensity of the fan, it is safer to have a co-driver that can operate the temperature control system or select music. Talk about distracted driving. And I know that many of you are in the same boat. I see new vehicles where the entire dash is basically a video screen with multiple displays. I just need to see how fast I am going and if the components of the vehicle are operating appropriately. Oh, and the radio needs to be really loud too.

This is all really cool stuff, things that my generation only saw in movies or spy shows. I think of early James Bond, Get Smart, or Batman with all their gizmos and gadgets.

For me, I miss the simplicity of driving my vehicle. I even miss having to take hot water out to the car in the winter to pour over the drivers door and key hole so that I could get in, hoping that the door mechanism did not freeze in the open position. Power door locks were not standard either. In fact, I was amazed just a few weeks ago when I saw a young person use the key to get in their vehicle. I do love the steering wheel controls that allow for drivers to keep eyes on the road. In my 2017 Ram truck, I can hit a button and ask to adjust the temperature or make a call. However, mine is a simpler vehicle too with actual buttons that I can just reach over and feel to make adjustments.

Back in the day, we knew where all the buttons were and which one did what. We did this by feel. If I wanted to change the temperature, I could simply feel my way to the temperature slide mechanism. There were only five presets on my radio and the buttons were huge and distinct. In the snow, we did not have all wheel drive or traction control. No, you had to know how to rock your vehicle out of the snow if you were stuck. Today, if I want to rock my truck, I have to find the button to turn of the traction control and give back the control I need to move. I am fortunate that my truck has a single button for this. For Dawn, it is buried in, you guessed it, the infotainment system.

I miss simplicity, and I love technology. I am torn.

Simplicity is the treasure that I miss, however. I find myself craving it more and more. Dawn and I pass through Amish country from time to time and I always wonder if I could live that simple. On some days, I say yes, let me go back to heating my home with wood, hanging cloths on the line and playing games with the family and not on the TV. This past Christmas however, I am not sure that taking my horse to the store, when it is 30 below is something that I would be particularly happy about. I would just opt to have groceries delivered. Wait, no phone! Drat!

Well Batman, I guess I will just tap a button on my watch, that starts my truck, warms it, and drives itself to the front door so that I do not have to be in the cold too long. I guess complicated technology may have a place. Either way, it is here to stay.

Knowing that this reaches so many different countries, with varying technology in vehicles, it will interesting to see the comments.

May y’all be happy, healthy, and safe.


2 thoughts on “Day 4 – What is a Treasure That’s Been Lost? Vehicle Simplicity

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