I just bought a new car. I know it wasn’t a smart time financially, but my old car was eight years old and was beginning to be a bit dodgy.
This is the first time I ever set out of buy a car by myself, but I knew exactly what I wanted: my old car, but a hybrid. Familiar yet environmentally responsible. It was a win/win.
I signed the papers and drove the car off the lot like the big girl that I am, but my adventure was just beginning. In the past, if I knew how to put the car in drive and park it (albeit only diagonally), that was enough. The techno details I left to my husband, Harold, but now that Harold is driving around on the great Autobahn in the sky (I’ll bet he has a Porsche), knowing the ins and outs of my car are up to me. I’m not happy about that, but that’s where I am, so in a reluctant burst of responsibility, I got out the manual and started on page one.
Now first, let me offer up a huge thank you to the car company for printing out a manual to begin with. When I bought my phone, the salesperson rolled her eyes and declared that everything I would need to know was on their website, implying that if I couldn’t negotiate that, I was a hopeless human being who had no business owning a phone.
Not so with my new car, thank goodness. I began my auto self-tutorial sitting in my driveway with a set of pictures pointing out (literally) what all the buttons in my car actually did. Gear shifting and headlights and windshield wipers I knew, but there were other knobs that I had to look up in the index.
One button would allow me to purposefully switch the engine from regular to hybrid. The other button said “VSC,” which turned out to be Vehicle Stability Control. The fact that I would be allowed to, nay, encouraged to make either one of those calls, sent me into a bit of a panic. I mean, the buttons are located right at my elbow, next to the cup holder and, sadly, I know that I might very well inadvertently misposition my purse or lean across to buckle Dave in his car seat and initiate some unintended sequence of events.
Not to run myself down or anything, but there are things with which I should never be trusted, like which engine to use or whether I am experiencing the optimum amount of stability. Is less stability ever a good thing? I can’t think of a single instance when I’ve said, “Gee, I wish I had less stability.” The manual talked about being on a slippery surface, but how slippery are we talking? I have no idea. And even if I did, I think access to changing it should be up under the car and accessible only with some foreign 5/16 metric wrench. Either that or in the spare tire well. I saw firsthand the included nifty jack, but will I ever use it without the express aid of AAA? Who am I kidding? They’ll have to do the whole thing.
Maybe I shouldn’t have bought the car. Maybe I should have looked for a Fred Flintstone pedal car; that would be environmentally responsible as well, even though it would make me extremely unpopular on the freeway.
No, I’ll figure it out. I will. I’m a functioning human being and I have the manual. With pictures. I can do this.