by Eric Bergeson, August 18, 2010
Last week, almost one year to the day after I purchased my latest vehicle, the odometer turned over to 30,000 miles.
Well, it is a green display light that changed to 30,000 miles. Saying it “turned over” is no longer accurate.
The car, a 2009 Ford Taurus, has done everything asked of it.
It rides like a dream.
The stereo rocks.
The interior is classy.
The trunk could hold a piano.
The view from the driver's seat is beautiful.
But I don't like the thing! We haven't bonded. In fact, my car bores me to death.
I still miss my Ranger, which sits up in the yard, forlorn and forgotten despite its obvious beauty, used only for field duty, made dirty by people who view it as a mere chunk of metal.
I feel twinges of guilt and regret every time I drive past.
So nondescript is my new car that twice in the last year I have gotten into the wrong vehicle after coming out of a convenience store. That's fine in the small town, but not in Tucson.
The car is painted silver. So is everybody else's. It is like going back to the era when everybody had a black Model T. How did they tell them all apart after the square dance on Saturday night?
I bought the car because it was marked down and it had all the bells and whistles and it seemed like I no longer needed to drag a pickup around.
Mistake. I jumped in the Ranger and drove around the yard the other day and immediately my self-worth increased by 47%.
The Ranger's engine roars like it is expending more effort than is needed, the tires howl on the pavement, the cab is dirty, the carpet has holes.
But driving it feels like home.
Getting into a silver sedan makes it feel like I am going to bingo, or to a job in the suburbs that I hate, or to an annual meeting of the co-op to hope for door prizes, or to a square dance festival.
Even the bells and whistles in the new car irritate me.
When I yell at the stereo to play a certain tune, it always gets the wrong one.
When the dome lights fade slowly down as if they are being dimmed by a stage manager instead of just going off, I feel like yelling “quit this foolishness.”
The fan control button has a delayed response, as if that is some sign of class.
You get in a hot car and turn up the fan a couple notches and it does nothing. So you turn it up more and it goes up a little.
Well, the thing is just catching up to you. As I put my hand back on the wheel, the fan keeps speeding up until it is plastering my face.
So, I turn it down with a couple of bumps of the button. It does nothing. I hit the button a couple more times. The fan slows a little. I put my hand back on the wheel only to have the fan keep slowing down to a stop.
Now, what possible good could come of that sort of feature?
I have no time for such nonsense. When I push the button, I want results. Now.
Another thing: To adjust the side mirrors, you can't just reach out and move them. You have to learn how to use this lever deal which, depending upon how you bend it, controls the mirrors on both sides of the car.
Last week, the left hand mirror was off kilter and I spent a good eight miles trying to get it back in line before I figured out that I must have run into something that pushed the entire mirror around. No wonder the lever did no good!
Another complaint: the windows get locked up all the time so they won't roll down and I can’t figure out how to unlock them.
You say read the manual.
Listen, any machine that requires that a person read the manual in order to run it is poorly designed and probably just too complicated.
In 260,000 miles, I didn't open the manual on the Ford Ranger until I had to figure out the jack to change a tire.
Now that's a good vehicle.