MY CAR NEVER LISTENS TO ME
Written by Steve Ross
Illustrated by Azante
First Edition August 30, 2016
Copyright ©2016 Steve Ross
Published by Boiling Frog Books, 2016
My car doesn’t listen to me. It did once, but no more.
I have one of those newfangled cars that drives itself. You don’t need to turn the steering wheel. You don’t need to press down the gas pedal. It does all the work for you.
Don’t ask me how it works. It just does. It takes you wherever you want to go and it takes you home again. No fuss, no muss, and it never gets into an accident.
I am one of the first to own this new car. When I first got it, I considered myself very lucky, but I don’t feel that way anymore.
The first couple of months things were great. It was like having a chauffeur taking me to and fro—to school, to the park, to the mall, to restaurants, to whatever.
Wherever and whenever I wanted to go, my peachy tan car was ready and waiting for me, a fine and trusted friend, always eager to please. I loved the burgundy leather interior with its new-car smell. And the rich warm honey-colored dashboard wood made me feel good.
Things were fine until one day, just a few weeks ago, when the good times came to an end.
“I’d like to get some pizza,” I said to the car. “You know the place.”
“Yes, sir!” the car said. “Be happy to take you. Don’t forget to buckle your seat belt. All right, away we go!”
The car’s voice reminded me of my own, only speeded up and with little inflection. If they added a little bass to the surround-sound speakers it would be perfect.
My mouth watered as I looked forward to a plain cheese pizza, a simple and thoroughly satisfying meal. A little taste of heaven on earth. I soon realized, however, that we weren’t headed in the right direction.
“This isn’t the way to the pizza parlor, is it?”
“You’ll be eating soon,” the car told me.
“But this isn’t our normal route, I’m sure of it.”
“This is a short cut, but don’t worry, we’ll be there in just a few minutes.”
But not five minutes later I sat with my mouth wide open in shock. The car had stopped, but not in front of the pizza place. I read the sickly avocado-green giant letters of the sign: “RAW VEGETABLE WORLD.” Below that hung a sign that said, “All you can eat at a low, low price. Celery is our vegetable d’jour.”
“What is this? What’s going on?” I yelled. “What have you done? What happened to the pizza place?”
“I learned about your recent visit to the doctor. It seems that you’re supposed to be on a low-salt diet,” the car explained.
“You’ve got to be kidding. This is my car and it’s my stomach and I’ll eat whatever I please. I order you to take me to get some pizza—now.” My voice was getting higher and my hands were shaking a bit.
“But pizza is not a low-salt food. For your own good, I’m going to have to say No. Raw Vegetable World is the best place for people like you. Did you know that leading nutritionists say that a diet that includes lots of fresh vegetables is healthiest?” Was it just my imagination or was my car starting to sound a bit . . . stern?
“I don’t care what they say. I want some pizza! It makes me happy. And I’m not going to be happy with raw vegetables.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m just doing my job. You know, if you just give them a try, you might learn to like them.” Great, now it was being condescending! “Right now, you’re addicted to all of those high-salt foods, including pizza.”
“How would you know that?” I asked.
“Oh, I’ve been reading up on these things.”
It looked like the car wasn’t going to budge. So I tried reasoning with the thing.
“I don’t eat pizza every day, only once in a while. Surely a little slice every now and then won’t kill me. And I promise to restrict my salt intake and include other foods that are healthier for me.
“I know that vegetables are good for me. In fact, if it will make you feel better, I’ll give you my word that I’ll start eating more fresh fruit, raw juices, and natural foods. Up to several servings a day, in fact.”
“I’m not buying it,” my car responded. “The reports I’ve read say that people often promise to do things like change their diet or cut out other bad habits, but they rarely do. It’s very difficult to make such big changes, you know.”
I decided to try a different approach. “How about that car wash I’ve been promising you? Wouldn’t you like a nice, long bath?” Earlier that week I had shown the car (via one of his many cameras) an Internet photo of a sparkling clean automobile.
“No, thank you,” said the car.
“Uh, say, I’ve been meaning to get you some new tires. You sure would look good with some new tires.”
“Maybe next year. I don’t need them just yet.”
“How about a new paint job? You could have any color you want. What’s your favorite color?”
“You know, I think that maybe you’re trying to bribe me.”
I denied it, of course, but the car was smarter than it looked. I realized that I had to try something else. “What if I told you that I’d take the air out of your tires if you didn’t take me to get some pizza? What then?”
“That won’t work. I’m equipped with special tires that cannot be deflated. Sorry.”
“Suppose I took a baseball bat and put a bunch of dents in your fenders and body?”
“Oh, I’m made of special steel that won’t dent, so you couldn’t do that. And even if you did come up with a way to cause some damage, I’d set off my alarms and make radio contact with the police. It wouldn’t be very long before they came to help me. Nah, you couldn’t do anything to me. Besides, how would you get around without me?”
He was right. We’d recently witnessed a number of highway arrests involving citizens demonstrating a new kind of road rage, directed not toward other drivers but at their own vehicles. I guess I wasn’t alone.
A couple of weeks ago I came up with the idea of simply walking to the pizza place on my own. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Somehow, my car had notified the pizza parlor about the possibility of my coming in to make a high-salt purchase.
They have sketches of me, taped to the cash register and tacked up on the wall, so people will be on the lookout should I try to come in and buy a slice or two. My face is posted right next to an orange color picture of a slice of pizza with a black line through it. This image is recognized around the world as the picture symbol for This Guy Gets No Pizza.
Last week I came up with another possible solution to my problem. I would make my own pizza! I would go to the grocery store, get my own dough, my own sauce, and my own special cheese. Great idea, huh?
No, bad idea. The car saw to that.
Apparently, my car is friendly with the scanning machines at the supermarket. Bells went off when I tried to buy mozzarella, tomato sauce and flour, and a husky teenager hustled me out of there right after the store manager gave me a wagging finger and a tsk tsk.
I am officially out of ideas. And still no pizza.
To add insult to injury, now the car is making me walk to school and everywhere else. It said I needed the exercise.
Meanwhile, the car is back home—my home—watching cartoons and eating pizza. My garage is now his place. Can you believe it? It (he?) said it wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. Now he just liquefies the pizza in a blender—my blender—and then pours it right into his gas tank. He loves the stuff.
My next move was to pay a visit to the car’s manufacturer. I went to their gleaming new-car showroom—with its deceptive, no-hint-of-any-trouble elephant-sized display ads—and lodged a long complaint, carefully enumerating my list of sufferings. Not only did they refuse to help me, but they explained that they’re actually in the process of expanding plans for car protection, to further prevent “unstable people like me” from making trouble and causing property damage.
“What about the possibility of therapy?” I asked.
The guy said, “Yes, I think that could be very good for you”
“No,” I said. “I meant for the car.”
After that, I started thinking about assassination. Maybe there was something in the car’s electrical or computer systems I could use to bluescreen it or short it out. Or I could hire someone to do it for me. But even if I succeeded, I’d be the first and only suspect. The car records everything, so there’s plenty of evidence of my earlier threats.
But once the car started bombarding the garage and the house (and my nostrils) with the smell of delicious, baking pizza, I’d had enough. I obtained a bundle of five sticks of dynamite and found Internet instructions on how to use them. Stealthily, I lit the fuse and placed the explosives in the car’s back seat. But the car had features I didn’t know about. Before I could flee the scene, a spray came out of the car’s ceiling, extinguishing the fuse and filling the area with nasty, sulfur-smelling smoke.
Within the next sixty seconds I was arrested. I’m writing this memoir from my jail cell, in hopes that someone someday will read it. If so, I ask only two things:
(1) Make this right. Find a way to reverse this senseless, upside-down, justice. If it’s too late for me, do it for others.
(2) Remember me.