Sunday, August 20, 2006

Slow down and enjoy the drive (Manistee News Advocate Aug. 06)

Why did the car companies decide that it was a good idea to put those "change engine oil" lights in our cars? Do they have a secret alliance with the Jiffy Lube cartel to brainwash people into getting their oil changed bi-weekly? If they think that I’m coming to the dealership to get my oil changed when that little light comes on, they’re nuts. I’m not going to pay those prices.. Does anyone really use that as their reminder to change their oil, anyway? Most of us drive far beyond the mileage counter number on the cute little sticker on the windshield. Then, we proceed to drive beyond the date that is printed on there, too. If I can ignore that sticker, I can surely ignore a light on my dashboard. I guess I don't mind that they put those “change oil” lights in the car, but good God! Make it easier to cancel them out once I actually do change the oil. The guy at the oil change place should just be able to flip a switch, but of course its not that easy. I turn on the key, turn off the key, pump the gas pedal three times in five seconds, say the magic word, cross my eyes, and do everything the owner’s manual says to turn that stupid light off, but it WON'T GO OFF! And everyone who rides in your car has to point out, "hey, you should get your oil changed, your light is on." This only adds insult to injury. Anyway, since when do I have to take advice from my car? What’s next, diet tips from the refrigerator? Wait, I saw a commercial the other day for a refrigerator that’s hooked up to the Internet and has a television built into it, so maybe that IS possible. If General Motors really wants to put a useful gadget in my car, how about linoleum flooring? The rugs in my vehicles have gone from their natural color to a dark black from coffee, pop, milk, smashed Cheerios, and all of the other wonderful fast food droppings that find their way there when my family consumes meals on long drives. With a linoleum floor, I could squeegee it clean after every road trip, maybe even toss down a little Mop ‘N Glo and get it sparkling clean again. Linoleum floors would be useful -- the change oil light doesn’t do anything for me except incite my already borderline road-rage I feel from the morons who pass me every time I pull over to let an ambulance drive by. What is the deal with that? The unwritten code of the road says, re-enter the traffic flow in the order that you pulled over for the emergency vehicle. Yeah, I’m talking about you; the guy in the white truck who passed me in front of the hospital the other day. Remember driver's education? Sure, that was decades ago, I know, but I’m sure you remember those “Blood on the Highway” movies. Well, besides admonishing drunk driving, one of the really important lessons we learned was to pull over when you see an ambulance with its lights flashing in the rear view mirror. You never know, It could be your grandmother inside there who just had a coronary and every minute may count. It doesn't mean that you get a “free pass” to go around me whenever I follow the law and pull over. What it all boils down to is that everyone is in too much of a hurry on the roads these days. If scientists actually did experiments to see how much time is saved by running yellow lights and passing people when they pull over for ambulances, I’m sure they’d find that the total savings per trip equates to only about a minute or so. Is it really worth risking life and limb to arrive at the dentist or the grocery store one minute earlier? Or maybe those people in such a hurry are rushing to Jiffy Lube to get an oil change because their little light is on...Cean Burgeson can be reached at:

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