Friday, December 5, 2014

The Pod of Privilege

I drove my first loaner car today, a brand spanking new Volvo, because my son lost the only key to my, ahem, not so brand new Volvo. The loaner is sleek, white and new. NEW. I haven't been anywhere near a new car in a long time, and this one was, well, more than a bit intimidating.

When I stepped inside and closed the door this morning, immediately the outside world ceased to exist. I was transported into a hushed, plush universe, with a seat significantly more comfortable than my bed. I felt safe, yet disconnected. Barricaded, yet not part of anything. Is this what it's like to live in a gated community? This thought trailed me all day, the feeling of being closed-out, the how-many-inches of padding there were between me and anyone/thing outside. It felt like privilege, that subject in the news in the wake of the Ferguson riots and the ongoing protests in NYC and elsewhere. And to make my point more dramatic, I'll say it again: my Pod of Privilege was white. 

The car itself was a bit confounding. I couldn't figure out how to adjust the side-view mirror. I couldn't find the icon for turning off the heated seats. The windshield wipers kept alternating patterns — wait! Was that a figure eight? Never mind trying to figure out the computer screen on the dashboard. (Where's the scroll button? The mouse?! Can I send an email? Is there a facebook icon?)

There was a button marked "My Car" — dare I touch it, even if the car isn't mine?!  There was a button marked +/-, which I suppose is handy if you want to practice your arithmetic on long drives. Altogether too much gadgetry for me, but for the .8 miles to and from work, I experienced life in an alternate dimension. 

Let's not mention that it's taken the dealership five days to re-key my car. From the difficulties the guy on the phone kept explaining (in my daily call to Ravenna Volvo), you'd think it was an 1895 model with a ten mules strapped to the front hood, expecting hay and water twice a day. "Problems with the software," he said. "We can't figure it out." Apparently today's mechanics need a degree in computer engineering along with the toolbox.

And in the end, the key was found, on the sidewalk outside my son's job. But too late! The car had already been towed, and the new keys had been cut. Damn. son's car, which has sat idle for three months needing repairs for which he didn't have the cash, suddenly started running again.

All this, just so I could spend time inside the Pod of Privilege.

If anyone wants to do some math problems, come on over. I'm itching to test out those plus and minus signs. What could possibly be more entertaining on a Friday night in December?


  1. All we really need is a reasonably comfortable, reasonably fast, reliable car that will get us from A to B.

  2. on my Prius, those plus/minus signs are for adjusting radio volume.

    Yeah, if I had money to burn, literally, I could enjoy a plush car like that. Otherwise, forget it. It's like Cro sez, point A to point B.