When it came time to buy a new car (a new used car, in this family), I had very few stipulations: good fuel economy and enough clearance to get up our long mountain driveway. I didn’t care about the color, and the fewer bells and whistles the better.
Many people in this environmentally minded community have Priuses, but they complain about our driveway and the need to creep along or scrape bottom when negotiating the half-mile to our house. So no superefficient hybrid for me, at least not yet.
Buying a new car meant trading in my late husband’s old SUV. I hated that car. It had no dashboard where I could conveniently stash the mail and various other papers, and it beeped when someone didn’t immediately fasten their seat belt. Lewis was bad about buckling up. Oh, he did it eventually, but only after he got out on the main road, and I was half mad from a sound to which he, apparently, was impervious. I absolutely hated it and told the car salesman I didn’t want a car that dinged at me.
There was a time lapse between deciding on a specific car, a 2012 Ford Escape, and picking it up from the local dealer. When the day came, it was after 5 p.m. and I didn’t have time to check out every detail.
Soon I discovered that, indeed, the car did ding at me — an insistent and irritating la-di-dah ... la-di-dah ... la-di-dah. I took the car back and complained.
The service department said the dinging was a mandated safety feature and it could not be removed ... even if they know how and they didn’t.
Come on, guys. What kind of mechanic can’t disconnect a wire?
“Just learn to live with it,” they said. “It’s for your own good.”
I tried. I really did. Surely a rational adult, who prides herself on overcoming life’s little vicissitudes, could deal with a minor irritation like this.
Well, no, I couldn’t. It was put there to get attention, and attention it got. It’s dinged at everything: an open door, a key left in the lock under any condition.
Once it was sounding off while I was trying to gather my possessions, and I grabbed for the key with such fury that the plastic head came off, leaving just the stub of the key still imbedded in the lock. It had to be removed with a pair of pliers.
Obviously I was losing. I’d have to employ some extraordinary coping techniques to overcome this thing.
A friend offered the following suggestion: “Use your imagination. Come up with a pleasant little song or ditty, and think about that whenever you hear ‘la-di-dah, la-di-dah, la-di-dah.’”
The first thing that came to mind can’t be written in a family paper: “I’ve-been-bleeped, I’ve-been-bleeped, I’ve-been-bleeped.”
At present the car and I are at a standoff. I’ve thought of writing the Ford Co. Maybe I’ll send this column to Ford’s headquarters, but I know it will be to no avail.
“La-di-dah, la-di-dah, la-di-dah” is there because the government wants to protect me. It has my best interests at heart.
The same man who suggested a pleasant little ditty, had this comment: “Buddha said doing good has its consequences, and they’re not always good.”
Perhaps we should all meditate on that.
Today we’re faced with a long list of government-mandated safely measures, and for the most part, we are better off because of them: Cleaner water, safer food, more reliable transportation. But the individual needs to be in charge of his or her personal environment.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who resents the government looking over my shoulder when I’m in my own home or car.
Warnings are fine, but when I can’t disconnect a buzzer or a bell that’s driving me nuts, they’ve gone too far.
Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.