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four fendered reality

February 4, 2010

I had quite the imagination as a child.  I spent many hours in my own little world, but I still managed to be aware of the realities around me, even when it came to traveling.  I was conscious of the different routes my parents took, whether we were going across town or around the block.  I may not have known street names, but I knew how to get to church, school, the store, etc.  I loved staring out the window, whenever I got a window seat, and absorbing my surroundings.  This absorption fueled my imagination.  I remember a particular car ride that was full of awe and wonder as I observed a great phenomenon take place inside the car.

I don’t remember how old I was – anywhere between six and eight, I think.  Mom and I were out and about in the old green Ford Fairmont.  I think we were alone, which was rather unusual, but I have no memory of anyone else being in the car with us.

I watched from the backseat as Mom made her way to our destination, wherever that was, and I noticed something amazing.  Our car knew exactly where we were going!  Every time Mom was going to turn, a little arrow blinked in that direction.  I saw it with my own eyes!  The little arrow blinked left and Mom turned left!  At the next turn, I knew she was going to turn right but I didn’t see an arrow pointing right, so I peaked around the other side.  There it was: an arrow pointing right!  And, of course, Mom turned right!  I was amazed!

My imagination frantically tried to figure out how the car knew what direction Mom was turning before she turned!  My mouth was agape as I witnessed the strange spectacle again and again.  I couldn’t figure it out, and I just had to know how the car got to be so smart.

“Mom?” I asked, trying to contain my wonder. “How does the car know which way you are going to turn before you turn?”

Mother answered quite matter-of-factly that there was a little lever by the steering wheel.  She pushed it up to turn right and down to turn left.  She told me that it made lights on the outside of the car blink so other cars knew which way she was turning.

I sat back in the seat utterly devastated.  Here I was thinking we had the smartest car since Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and it wasn’t true.  So much for that!  I much preferred my imagined explanation to bland reality.  Before Mom told me about the lever, I was on the verge of singing “Bang-bang Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, our fine four fendered friend” and expecting the car to take off flying!

I eventually got over my disappointment and learned to appreciate the reality of the fine four fendered friends in my life.  Still… some aspects of my imagined genius of a car are much better than the smart cars of today.  Hello – Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang could float and fly!  No voice commands were necessary – she anticipated her passengers’ every need.  Although they did have to provide their own music…

Photo Credits:Car Gurus and Avia The Great

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