Bumps and squiggles on the road to Automatic Hell

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“You don’t even know what a carburetor is!”“You don’t even know what a carburetor is!”

Let’s set the scene. We’re in a courtroom in Southern Louisiana. A young man who made a grave error in judgment is sitting on the witness stand, getting ready to defend his grave error in judgment, to a judge.

Needless to say, he is excessively anxious, and the itchy new suit his momma bought him for this appearance is really uncomfortable. Nervous shifting from one side of the large, leather witness-stand chair to the other causes the chair to bump loudly against the microphone he’s using to answer the judge.

The cheap cloth of his itchy new suit screeches and squeals against the leather each time he moves, causing even more interference than the bumping of the microphone. The judge, who is trying his best to ascertain details of the young man’s story, finally has had enough. He stops the young man mid-sentence with, “Mr. Gautreaux, could you please refrain from all the bumps and squiggles and get on with your story?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the only time the phrase “bumps and squiggles” has ever been officially used in a Louisiana courtroom.

The End.

No, wait, that’s not the end. Hold up, there’s more.

The “bumps and squiggles” story is legendary in our family. It’s obviously funnier when our dear family friend, Mr. Gautreaux, tells it, but it’s one that has been re-told to gales of laughter time and again. I was reminded of it the other day, when I got this message, “Wendy, please do a story about how unsafe the automatic ‘safety’ devices on new trucks are to people who actually know how to drive defensively, and how distracting all the bells and whistles are.”

So let’s delve into this a little, because it’s a great point and one I think is valid. Everyone pretty much knows I’m not a fan of the automatic world, I almost lost my life to an auto-flush toilet in Montana, so if anyone can relate to feelings of disdain for having the brakes applied on a commercial vehicle you’re piloting, without your consent, it’s me.

I might not drive big trucks, but I have driven an assortment of new rental cars with “auto-everything” and I can’t even describe to you the rage I feel every time the stupid car does something without my consent, like slam on brakes when an empty styrofoam cooler blows across the road in front of it.

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I knew it was styrofoam, because I am human and I can make decisions about whether or not the “thing” in front of the stupid car will explode into a gazillion pieces easily, or kill me, therefore I can make informed decisions about whether or not to cause grave internal injuries to myself and everyone behind me by slamming on the damn brakes on the highway.

And y’all should know me well enough by now — I got off the next exit, parked that dangerously stupid car, and got on the phone to George immediately: “I’m not driving this POS anther inch until you tell me how to turn off the auto brake. Also, I think my spleen is ruptured.”

Of course, there’s no way to turn it off, because we are all apparently too stupid to get out of our own way, and need machines to tell us. And I had to drive the POS another inch, because I didn’t have a choice, so I was nervous and distracted the entire time, and suffering from a ruptured spleen, which was exacerbated by the rage I felt every time the damn thing dinged a bell at me to tell me how much gasoline I had in the tank. I can look at a gauge, thankyouverymuch, even with a ruptured spleen. Shut up with the mileage stats and tell me how to get a lit match down into that gas tank, and I’ll listen.

I’m totally the “You kids get off my lawn!” old lady on the block when it comes to technology and my driving preferences. I don’t like all the contraptions, and even if I did, I’d like some say-so on which ones I choose to have screaming at me while I’m trying to dodge styrofoam coolers. I’m the person in the car who says, “Don’t tell me how to live my life,” when the GPS lady tells me where to go. I’m a lost cause. Go sell your bumps and squiggles elsewhere, I’m trying to pay attention to the road.

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