21st-century car complicates drive

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

When it comes to vehicles, The Lady of the House and I are solidly in the 20th century. Her car is from 1989 and while I prefer to ride a bicycle, I do have a 1978 Volkswagen in the driveway we call “The Flying Potato.”

So when we planned our vacation it was obvious which car we’d take: a rental car; a mid-sized sporty one with unlimited mileage.

When we picked up our 21st-century car, among the groovy doodads it had was a device called the “Neverlost,” which talked and gave directions to your destination.

We scoffed at the thing. After all, The Lady of the House prepared for the long trip ahead with maps from the Internet and such.

“Can we turn it off?” we asked the car rental dude.

“It starts up when the car does,” he said. “But you can turn the volume down.”

So we left Clovis on our vacation, but as we approached Amarillo we remembered we had to pick up a few more things. The Lady of the House started fiddling with the “Neverlost” as I drove.

“Look,” she said, “you can look up the store we want from this giant list.”

The “Neverlost” had a woman’s voice. She started telling us how far we were from the store, where to turn and such. Little did we know what fun the “Neverlost” would be.

We named her “Myrtle.” We started talking back to her and including her in our conversations. The Lady of the House and I, well, we’re just those kind of folks.

The other thing about the new-fangled car that took a little getting used to was the car alarm.

I’m sure if I’d taken the time to read the car’s manual I would have run across something about not leaving someone in there with the doors locked. I learned this the hard way in downtown Natchez, Miss., when we checked into our hotel and I left The Lady of the House in the car. Without really thinking, something that I do frequently, I locked the doors.

I dashed into the hotel and checked in. The desk clerk gave me the room keys, directions to the room and told me where I could park. I stepped out the back door of the hotel and paused to enjoy the sunset.

I noticed a horn was beeping over and over. It was a car alarm. The horn sounded familiar. That was our car alarm!

I ran out to the street and sure enough that “BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!” was coming from our car, echoing through downtown Natchez.

And people were staring. The Lady of the House saw me dashing to the car and looked at me with eyebrows raised and her mouth in a tight little point. I opened the car door and stuck the key in the ignition.

“It got a little stuffy in here,” she said. “I opened the door and, well…”

“I was just trying to keep you safe,” I said with a toothy grin.

“Uh huh,” said The Lady of the House, giving me that look.

When we came back to Clovis to return our 21st-century rental car we pondered whether we wanted one for ourselves.

“Nah,” we said together as we looked at each other.

We came home to our 1989 “Ol’ Reliable” and “The Flying Potato.” They missed us.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. He can be contacted at: