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There’s way too much ‘smart’ in my life

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to snatch the power back from my Smartphone, my Smarthouse, even those obnoxious Smartkids of mine, and become a Smartwoman.

But now I have a new foe and it’s proving problematic.

My Smartcar.

This is the fourth time in a week I’m in my garage, standing outside my new car, anxious, a knot in my throat, a feeling of dread. Quite a difference from the love I felt at the dealership. It reminded me of the football players I liked in college. They looked good on the outside until they spoke. Then I wanted to punch them.

Same for my new car.

I calm my nerves, take a deep breath, slowly place my hand on the door and get in.

I push a button and the car turns on.

Champagne, anyone?

So far so good.

I hit the menu button and the computer screen lights up asking if I want the menu to appear on the virtual cockpit. I don’t want to fly over Russia. I want to drive to HomeGoods.

I sign into the car’s WIFI, then synch my iPod to my car. I’m killin’ it here! But in synching my iPod I can’t figure out how to synch my phone. They both use Bluetooth technology and one seems to be canceling the other out. I feel like I’m in the car with two squabbling kids fighting for my attention. Which do I want more — music or phone? I choose the iPod because it’s been 20 minutes in the garage, so at least I’ll have music while flying reconnaissance over Russia. I sheepishly grab my bag of old technology and use the headset to synch to my phone.

My husband walks by and informs me I no longer need the headset.

Think of two words, people. I can’t repeat them.

I don’t need a Smarthusband.

Maybe I’ll have more luck with navigation: An alphabet chart comes up. 977valleyroadgilettenj. I’m unable to add spaces so I toggle down and I’m instructed to draw address on optional touchpad. Excuse me? Draw? On a touchpad? What touchpad?! I. Want. To. Go. To. HomeGoods! Not draw! Grabbing the bag of old technology, I find the Garmin GPS, plug it in, type the address (with spaces) and, voila, it calculates the trip. Thank you, Jesus.

$10K extra for technology is so worth it, said no one ever.

My husband walks by and notices the plugged-in Garmin GPS.

This time he says nothing.

Smarter than Einstein, that one.

It’s been 30 minutes in the garage. Maybe I’ll skip Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, synching, flying over Russia and just drive the damn car. So, I’m off. At a stop light the car turns off. My blood pressure is up to 450. Miraculously, I step on the gas and the car turns on, but a green foot with an arrow appears on the dash, which means I’m going above the speed limit. My car obviously has a dual personality, morphing into my mother telling me to slow down. How much more did this cost me?

Mistakenly, I hit a button on the steering wheel and a voice in sotto voce asks me what I want to do next. What I’d like to do next is punch the car in its virtual cockpit, but instead while pulling out a chunk of hair on my head, I loudly speak, “Call home.” I need to apologize to my husband. Sotto voce informs me it doesn’t recognize my voice. Then I come to a stop sign and the engine turns off.

My next car will be a golf cart.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. HomeGoods.

So, I finally get to HomeGoods. I buy the dishes I came for and try to swipe my points card, which hangs on my key ring. Then I realize I don’t have my keys. My Smartcar doesn’t require keys to turn itself on or off. Did I turn the car off? Cripes, the car is so smart it may be at Burger King having a Whopper by now. I leave the dishes and find my car. It is running and I swear it’s snickering.

I hit the same button I previously hit by mistake and in my own NOT so sotto voce speak, “Go home. ” And it calculates the route home. Cue a crazed woman with a bald spot on the right side of her head, doing the dab dance in the parking lot.

I feel hope.

Over the next few weeks, armed with a 425-page manual, various YouTube videos, on-line tutorials, trial and error, and yes, my friends, screaming at the dashboard/virtual cockpit, I snatch the power from the Smartcar and become a Smartwoman. I learn to synch everything, master steering wheel controls, the start/stop system, the optional touchpad, the instrument cluster, the virtual cockpit, navigation system, voice activation, cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Sirius. I even set my seats and synch the climate. I am familiar with 87 possible indicator lights.

I put my trusty bag of old technology back into the old car.

I am a Smartwoman.

Now if I could just find my keys to get into my house.

— Tracy Buckner

Tracy Buckner writes for The Observer Tribune of Chester, N.J., and blogs for the New Jersey Hills family of newspapers, which serve Madison, Chatham and Chester, New Jersey. She enjoys writing about the slow decline and vows to go down kicking and screaming. You can read more of her musings on her blog: “Aging, Kids, Family and Why We Self-Medicate.”

Reflections of Erma