Palace Chrysler-Jeep

Gabe's Gripes

The feeling of getting old

December 19, 2012 - Remember when you were a kid and all of the new technology coming out was so easy and clearly superior but none of the old people liked it?

I think I just had my first old person moment.

I've had the opportunity to work a diverse range of jobs in my short time on this earth; from retail, to food, to taking pictures. Recently I've had a job of a different flavor - working as a house assistant.

Now this is not professional in any regard. I do this job once a year and only have about two years under my belt, but the gist is this.

I work during a Christmas party at for a friend's parent. The work was at her client's house. I wash and clean up in the kitchen, help prepare food, make emergency runs for supplies and shuttle people to the house from a nearby school. Neighbors get upset when 40 cars are parked in the road, so the nearby elementary parking lot suffices.

A long story made short is that it's a night's work doing something different for good pay - and I get to help a friend's family - so I call it a win-win.

Because this is a swanky Birmingham area party, the homeowner wants his guests treated with luxury and in regards to my duty it means driving his brand new SUV with all the bells, whistles and any other instrument you can think of.

I've been in maybe three cars made after 2010 and the differences to what I'm used to are astounding.

In my life I have "owned" and driven a 1992 Saturn S-Series, a 1999 Ford Contour and a 2002 Honda Civic. These cars are mostly barebones outside of powered windows and, with the exception of the Contour, were all little "four-banger" engines.

So imagine the difference to me when I step into this brand new car.

No key needed to start, just the press of a button, locks work automatically based on the proximity of the key to the car. The seat moves forward when the car starts. Glowing blue lights shine from every conceivable corner of the car down to the cup holders. The dashboard is no longer dials, but screens with controls on the steering wheel.

I cautiously reach for the stick and put it in reverse and turn to look behind me, but something catches my eye and I turn to see there is a camera in the dash to guide me. Let's use this thing. The car is beeping, with warning lights and klaxons letting me know the car is in close proximity to objects while I back out of the alleyway driveway. I get to the street and see a car coming so I stop, obviously, but as the car goes by the loudest alarm yet goes off to let me know a car is behind me.

Sounds great right? Honestly, it was one of the most annoying new systems I have ever had to learn. Everything about this car felt like I should have had a training course.

From the touch buttons, to the unexpected moving parts, to the too-much-information panels almost everywhere in the car, it all seemed like overload.

I pined for simplicity and having to push a button and turn a dial to get to the song I wanted. I did not like to be asked by the vehicle what I'm in the mood for.

So there it is - the first moment I can remember where something new was too new - was so shiny and fancy and "convenient" that I hated it.

But the real point to all this is that there is no avoiding it and the best you can do to avoid stress is to learn the new ways to the best of your ability.

This is not to say you should immerse yourself in new devices or technology if you don't want to, but ruling something out as bad just because you're not used to it is the quickest way to becoming a curmudgeon.

So I worked with the car, I pleaded with it, gave it love and attention and after five hours of chauffeuring people back and forth between the house, messing with the dials and playing with the settings, I can honestly say that I still hated it.

But at least I know now not to be afraid to try new things.

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