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View from the North 40: A whole new level of confusion


Last updated 3/26/2021 at 10:24am

My husband John and I bought a new car.

And by new car, I mean we bought a car that is 14 years old, but it has barely over 100,000 miles on it, so it’s definitely new-new to us. In fact, it’s six years newer than the car it’s replacing. A lovely, understated tan car that died in six-vehicle pileup about three years ago.

We loved the tan car so much that we shopped and shopped for another one, but they were too popular either to afford, or to stay on sale long enough for us to find and buy before some other lucky devil did. Eventually, we resigned ourselves to driving the pickup like a car and using the old beater as our second vehicle.

But from defeat we have risen, victorious. The new car is the same make and model as the old one, but it is a little different, most obvious being that we haven’t totaled it. Yet. But other things are different because it’s a newer, techy-er model.

This is the point at which I warn you that the new car is only a secondary character in this tale, and its significant contribution is to act as a vehicle to drive the conflict forward. (See what I did there?) Don’t feel bad for the car, though, because even John and I take second stage to our complete bewilderment over the buttons in the new car.

It has a lot of buttons that control features we are accustomed to operating with knobs — most notably the heater controls which are rather crucial on these 20-something temperature mornings. Of course, the knobs were an upgrade from the sliding levers of yore, but the basic concept translated well from levers to knobs.

You had an array of choices, adequately illustrated to show you where the arrows are going to blow the air. These images are all laid out like a menu, so you can see all your choices and decide, yeah, I think this morning I would like the arrows blowing on the windshield aaaand my feet. In just one little spin of the knob, I have made it so.

Then two minutes later, my feet are hot and with a quick spin all the way clockwise and, like a mighty god, I have diverted all heat to my windshield, done. The new car has a button and a display screen. It does not have a full menu and it does not have a stopper.

I swear to you, this is a problem.

I figured out on my own that “mode” meant “heat,” and started pushing the button. I could clearly see heat blower-thingy choices flash by, then they kept cycling around again, and again. And again. Just to be sure.

Get this, there was no defrost only setting. It was defrost and feet together, only. I know, right? What kind of a nutjob designs a heater like that? I swear, in that moment, I had both hot feet and buyer’s remorse. It took three days of driving it and a 16-degree morning for me to figure out that there was a completely separate button to set it to defrost only.

I told my husband tonight about this illogical thing and he said, I swear, “I see your lips moving, but I don’t understand a thing you’re saying.”

I know, man, my confusion bows to the confusion in you.


Despite everything, I have decided to keep the car — it has cup holders in the trunk so now I’m intrigued at http://www.facebook.com/viewfromthenorth40.com .


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