My car is so green and I’m so blue, by Deb Katie

I recently became the proud owner of a Toyota Prius. It’s green with a tan interior and it gets a gazillion miles to the gallon. Seriously.

Here in Los Angeles, Priuses are like an epidemic. One day, my husband and I sat on our balcony and watched fifteen cars drive by. No lie, eight of them were Priuses. I’ve heard rumors that this is not the case in other parts of the country, but I can’t imagine it.

(The other day, I was actually driving in formation on the freeway. In the center lane were two silver Priuses, accompanied on either side by me and another green Prius. It was quite lovely, I assure you.)

Getting used to a new car is always exciting. Of course, the more features they add, the longer the “getting used to” process is. Ever diligent, I read through the “quick reference” manual. If there were tips and tricks, I wanted to master them. My car and I would be like one, navigating the city like that boy in Eragon and his dragon (instead of calling me a “dragonrider,” you can call me a “carrider”).

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say everything is going completely according to plan. How does that saying go? “If you ever want to make God laugh, try to master the voice controls on your navigation system”?

I know a little. I know, for instance, how to search for a restaurant. First you press the button, and then the pleasant-voiced lady who lives in the engine tells you to go ahead and talk.

Me: “Find nearby Japanese.”

Lady who lives in engine (LWLIE): “Indicating locations of Japanese restaurants.”

And then the map screen gets these cute little Japanese flag icons that symbolize the location of the local Japanese restaurants. Fun, right? Totally. One of the first things my husband did was ask the car to find the nearby seafood restaurants. Little icons of fish flanked by forks and knives popped up on the map. Squee!

Cut to: the other day. Sitting in traffic, I glanced down at the map to see that not only was I surrounded by seafood restaurants, but now there was a whole new set of icons. A stripe of blue, a stripe of red… the Thai flag. Checking with my husband revealed that, yes, when he borrowed my car, he did ask for directions to nearby Thai restaurants.

In case you haven’t guessed by now, I live and drive in Los Angeles. We like food here in Los Angeles. We especially like fish (be it sushi, or fried and taco-fied, or whatever, really) and Thai food. So at any given moment, unless I’m in the hills, there are between two and five icons on my screen.

Last week, while stuck in traffic, I finally decided to do something about it. I jabbed the talk button.

LWLIE: “I’m listening.”

Me: (Emphatically, to show how confident I am that I can guess the correct command.) “Clear searches.”

LWLIE: “What are these nonsense words you’ve strung together? I have to go. I’m listening to an NPR report about myself.”

I waited a second, the hamster wheels in my head turning, then hit the button again.

LWLIE: “What is it this time?”

Me: “Ahem. Cleeeeear searrrrrches.”

LWLIE: “Indicating locations of nearby ski resorts.”

Me: “Hmph.”

I pressed the button again.

LWLIE: “Seriously? You’re still here?”

Me: “Search complete.”

LWLIE: “Adjusting temperature to seventy-two degrees.”

And my car instantly got two degrees warmer. At this point, I would have defied traffic laws and common sense and looked in the quick reference manual, except I’d left it at home. So when I got home, I did look in the reference manual. I looked for “clear searches.” I looked for “search complete.”

To quote U2, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

The good news is, it’s a great car. It has a neato little camera that shows you what’s behind you when you reverse, so you don’t have to back into any cars, uh, ever again. It’s zippy and maneuverable and cute. And it gets 46 mpg, which means that, given the price of gas these days, I can drive to work for a month using spare change shaken out of my couch.

So if you’re thinking Prius, let me strongly encourage you to give them more than a passing glance. Think how good you can feel about your carbon footprint! Think of the cuteness and all of the amenities!

Most importantly, just THINK how you can figure out how to clear the searches and share a clue with me!!

~ Deb Katie Alender

13 Replies to “My car is so green and I’m so blue, by Deb Katie”

  1. Katie –

    I’m so glad you got a Prius! Good for you (and all of us). I have to tell you, Vermont is the other place WHERE EVERYONE DRIVES A PRIUS. It used to be green Subarus (more about that later in the week). But now, it’s the Prius.

    Funny post!

  2. Not too many Priuses here in Michigan. Maybe there will be an outbreak of Chevy Volts if the Big Three don’t go under… (imagine ominous music here).

    Katie, how funny the car would continue to show you little restaurant flags ad infinitum! How about: “HEY! I’M DONE EATING ALREADY!”

  3. Okay, that was a funny post. My husband set my navigation to French as a joke for me one day. It was hilarious, but we actually liked it so much, we left it for a little while. It was like being on vacation!

  4. Oh, I want that…for my very own.
    Bill has one of the direction things (why I don’t know), but we call the voice, “She who must be obeyed!” One of my girlfriends and her husband actually exchanged one when they felt the voice sounded too snotty.

    Hey where is my daughter, she would love this car.

  5. Eve, oh, I know all about Subarus! Aren’t those the official car of Seattle?

    Kristina, I wish Chevy would hurry up with their Volts. I’m sure it would help them a little. And you actually gave me an idea… I’m going to actually go to a fish restaurant. Just drive up to it. Maybe then the car will figure I got what I wanted and let the whole thing go.

    Tiffany, that’s hilarious. I’d be afraid to do that for fear that I could never change it back.

    Larramie, if she ever decides to blackmail me, I’m in huge trouble, that’s for sure. Although she does have a bit of a skewed perception–I’m not much of a skier, and I do like other types of food besides Thai and fish. But no doubt she listens to all of my phone calls, too.

    Tom, I’m sorry… oh, I have to come to your blog and check on the Critter.

    Eve’s Mom, that’s funny… my old car’s navigation voice couldn’t pronounce “quarter”, as in “one quarter of a mile.” It would say, “One koo-water of a mile”. And yet she was really quite full of herself, you could just tell.

  6. Oops, I didn’t notice Eve posted first…
    Anyway, I just took my 10 year old car and purchased John Elder Robinsons’ book and The Audacity of Hope…just finished reading…Sleeping With Ward Cleaver…pretty funny stuff, oh and some food too. If I buy books at the supermart, does that count???

  7. We see a lot of Priuses in NYC, too. But also those adorably tiny Smart Cars that you can practically park on the sidewalk. I find those navigation voices a little disturbing–apparently people have been having accidents because they’re so busy obeying the voice they forget to look for trains traveling down train tracks, etc…

  8. Eve’s Mom, of course that counts! At first I misread your comment and thought you traded in your car so you could buy John’s book… now that’s dedication! 😉

    Meredith, if I lived in NYC and had to have a car, I would totally look into a Smart Car. Those things are so cute.

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