Redesigning Cars in My Spare Time

When I’m not pondering the great questions of the universe like whether to risk getting peanut butter in the jam jar or jam in the peanut butter jar when using one knife to prepare a sandwich, I like to invent things or come up with ways to improve on things that have already been invented.

This week I’ve been thinking about cars. I have two major beefs with Vinny that I think could be remedied in the 2008 Toyota Sienna. Heck, I’d buy a 90’s model Astro if it came with this first feature.

1. Short Pointless Errand Child Care Device (SPECCD) — I came up with this device last Thursday as I was running short pointless errands with my way-past-naptime kids drifting in and out of consciousness in the back seat. Every 3.5 minutes, I would have to stop, take them out of their car seats, corral them into a store or post office, complete a 2 minute task, gather them once more, strap them back in, wait for them to fall asleep and then take them out again for another quick stop. Laylee begged with actual words to be left in the car. Magoo just gave me that look that says, “I don’t know how but at some point in my teenage years I will make you pay for this day of torture and humiliation” and then he bawled like a 2-year-old.

What they don’t realize is that I’d like nothing better than to leave them in the car if I had any assurance that they wouldn’t be kidnapped or nuked to death in the hot summer sun.

There has got to be a way to equip a car with a built in babysitter, possibly a “bot” or “cyborg” of some kind. If it was a kind, nanny-type of cyborg, you could leave it in the car with the kids and a sawed-off shotgun. If it was more of the turn-on-its-master-and-take-over-the-world variety, you could give it your credit card and let it pick up the cilantro for you while you snoozed in the car with the kids. The possibilities are endless.

2. Silent Automatic Locks — I am a door locker. Much to Dan’s chagrin I lock doors constantly, keeping out thieves, solicitors, bad guys of all kinds, and sometimes Dan or myself. But at least the kids are safe… alone… in the house with all the knives and nonorganic shampoos.

I’m pretty serious about this, even in the car but sometimes I forget. Then frequently as I’m driving around, a vagrant, hooliganite-ish teenager, or traveling street performer will walk or unicycle up beside my car and my hand will jump to the automatic lock button. Then comes my dilemma. Do I trigger the loud lock, letting the person know I’m locking them out because I think they look creepy or do I leave us unprotected to save their tender and possibly psychotic feelings?

I tend to think that most people who look creepy already know they look creepy and the last thing their self-esteem needs is for me to rub salt in their wounded egos by giving them the you’re-creepy-door-locking signal.

Tell me. If you’re reading this and you are creepy, do you know you’re creepy? I suspect you do so wouldn’t it just hurt your feelings if someone locked the door whenever you came around? You could be harmlessly creepy. Maybe you just have really bad teeth, large nazi tattoos and a sweet spirit. Who am I to judge?

It’s like someone running away and hiding their infant under a blanket when I come near because they know I’m baby hungry. Maybe I am, and I know I am but it doesn’t mean I’m gonna eat your child. You should just keep one arm over the child for protection, then snatch and lock them up when I get far enough away that I won’t notice.

So for now that’s what I do. I keep one finger on the trigger as they walk by and when I think they’re far enough away (this distance varies based on their apparent hearing loss or iPod volume) before giving them the big creepy repellent click.

I would not have this problem if my locks were silent.

What features would you add?

the reasons: Band-Aids, sun in the Pacific Northwest, reconciliations, samples at Costco

This entry was posted in all about me, around town, aspirations, driving. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Redesigning Cars in My Spare Time

  1. Kimberly says:

    I’ve had the exact same thought about silent locks!

    About the PBJ issue though…Neil is allergic so here’s what I do. Spread peanut butter on bread, carefully pour a small portion of jam onto sandwich. Smear with knife. Lick inevitable spillage off edge of jam jar. But only if no one is looking. That last bit is really important.

  2. Goodness, your last couple of posts are exciting!
    I hold my finger on the locks and wait until they are gone, just in case I have to lock really quickly. The only Popeys chicken in the state is ina VERY bad area of town! But we still have to get our fix, you know.
    My mom is the opposite of you, she doesn’t lock, and doesn’t even think things about weirdos and freaks. She was being hit on by some weirdo in Pheonix and she thought he was telling her the wedding cake she made was cute, and he hopped out of his vehicle and tried to get in hers! Did she scream about some freak trying to get into her car? Nope. She screamed “Don’t sit on the cake!” It didn’t dawn on her until later what had actually happened.

  3. Hmmm… silent locks…

    Our super fancy 1995 Ford Escort Station Wagon w/non-matching bumper and dents all around does not feature these fancy electronic locks of which you speak. It does, however, have a little tree air freshener, the removal of which would so depreciate the car as to cause our insurance agency to total it immediately – we keep spares in the glove compartment to avoid such an instance. However, to fix the same problem, my wife and I have developed the “Rose Park Stretch”.

    Rose Park is a particularly ghetto part of Salt Lake from which my wife hails. While we generally leave the car doors unlocked, we do prefer to lock our doors in Rose Park for the same reasons you cite, although the creepy people in her neck of the woods tend to prefer old beat-up shopping carts from Smith’s filled with odds and ends (mostly odds – very odds) rather than unicycles – I suppose they’re just not as talented in Salt Lake as they are in Washington. In any case, the Rose Park stretch is a careful placement of the arm on the dashboard, looking like a good stretch, followed by a slanting back of the elbow to drop the lock on the door. Since our rear doors and cargo bay door are always locked, this has kept us safe from grocery cart wielding cat ladies for years.

    Maybe you should invest in a fine automobile, like the 1995 Ford Escort Station Wagon with custom non-matching-bumper-picked-from-a-junkyard-so-we-could-take-the-insurance-money-and-buy-some-couches and dents to match all over the entire body as well. Tell you what, we’ll offer you a straight up trade. And we’ll throw in the kazoo we that’s been rattling around in our spare tire well for years so the kids can be entertained. Who needs a DVD system when you’ve got good old crusty kazoo to play on?

    Seriously, Kathryn. Think about it. Silent locks and kazoo. How could you possibly go wrong?

  4. Awesome Mom says:

    I like the bot idea. I would totally run more errands if I had one of those. I have a two errand maximum since I have found that is the most times I can get both kids in their car seats and then take them out only to have to put them in again.

    I would like to see some sort of soundproofing in the back. A shield that deploys when a child decides to start crying allowing you to enjoy your music in peace.

  5. Stacey says:

    Ok, the door-locking thing had me laughing. Back in the “olden” days, when the locks weren’t automatic and you actually had to apply pressure to the lock ITSELF to engage said lock, I would make like I was stretching and end with my elbow pressing down on the lock, thus keeping creepy people at bay. It usually left me with a small indentation on my elbow, but a small sacrafice to make for discretion, I say.

  6. allysha says:

    I just don’t look at those creepy people while I’m locking the car, and then I just try to act nonchalant. Oh well, if I hurt feelings. I’m not trying to be mean on purpose!

  7. KatherineJ says:

    Autopilot… those days I have to tote my kids around to a bazillion mindless errands and get so sleepy I actually contemplate handing the keys over to my nine year old kamikaze boy ~ or when I stare at the dotted line in the middle of the road for too long…. yeah, autopilot. Just type the address in a little computer pad, turn on the don’t-bump-into-anything sensors all around the van, and off we go. Oh, and I’d need a little alarm, some soothing music and earplugs to keep from hearing my kids scream at each other!

  8. Arizaphale says:

    OK. How about dual system CD players so I don’t have to listen to the Wiggles for the 400th time? Or, a self activating machine to clean the interior of your windscreen and get the foot marks off. Or a small, resident, excreta free mammal for eating excess food scraps that fall down between the seats……the possibilities are endless!

  9. Syndi says:

    Ha! I’m also a constant-drive-my-huband-crazy door locker. He’ll joke about it by saying, “Be sure and lock the door so nothing will get you.”

  10. Huckaby Fam says:

    Okay, I was led to your blog by Shannon over at Rocks in my Dryer. HA! My sides are sore from laughing! I totally need the bot too. Although, the littlest peanut screams bloody murder in his car seat (which, incidentally, must be made of nails), so I’m not sure how much that might help me. Even the bot might need a break from the howling.

  11. glittersmama says:

    I need one of those car cyborgs. It’s such a pain to carry the baby into the gas station to get a Diet Coke. And no, drive-thrus don’t cut it. It’s just not as good.

    I always had that problem with the locks until I got my current car. All of the doors lock when I shift the car into reverse or as soon as the car hits 10 mph. Then I don’t have to worry about the creepies unless one of my dogs has stepped on the roll-down-the-window button.

    I saw a car the other day that had a heated cup holder. I need a frosted cup holder–to keep my Diet Coke cold so I don’t have to keep taking the baby out of her car seat to go get a new one.

  12. Oh yes, I am creepy, and I’m fully aware of it. 😉

  13. Mary says:

    Cyborgs, unicycles, tatoos, oh my!

    I would love an in-car babysitter for those quick trips. Life would be so sweet!

    In my car design, I would have some kind of robotic arm that could hand the kids sippy cups, open bags of crackers, pick up the toy that dropped for the 20th time, etc, so I can keep my hands at 10 and 2 and keep my eyes on the road – making the road a safer place for all around. Maybe the cyborg would fit that niche as well! You are a genious.

    Oh, and in our car, the doors automatically lock when you start driving, so no hurting the feelings of all the creepy pan handlers that target the intersections where we enter our cozy community.

  14. Beth says:

    I would put chauffeur glass that’s sound proof when I turn a dial. I can hear my kids until I turn the dial. When I’ve had enough of their fighting or whining, I turn the dial and the glass becomes sound proof.

  15. Angela says:

    Okay, this post made me laugh out loud at least 4 times, but THIS: “I tend to think that most people who look creepy already know they look creepy” took the cake!

    I hate the loud lock dilemma. You could take the approach of looking or acting creepier so that THEY are scared of you. Writhing, seizing, foaming…whatever.

  16. Millie says:

    The loud door lock: the ultimate street snub. “Dude, I am locking you AAAOUT of my car. You look like something the unicycle dragged in.”

    I’ve thought the same thing. “If I lock the door, he might hear it and start crying because I won’t let him in. He’ll think I’m racist or bigoted or prejudiced against creepy-looking street people. I really care more about what this guy thinks than about the safety of my family.”

    Seriously, I have had this conversation in my head.

  17. Millie says:

    P.S. And I love that your readership could possibly include creepy people who KNOW they’re creepy.

  18. Melissa says:

    You’re right that the Toyota Sienna would solve your problems… well, at least the second one. It locks all the doors as soon as you put the car in gear. It unlocks them when you turn the car off. Offensive clicky noise goes unheard by street performers and general creepy people. Unless they are standing around your car as you get. Then I think you’d have more problems than the sound level of the car locks! 🙂

  19. sarah k. says:

    I want a water-bottle magnet to catch all those errant bottles and prevent the rollage. A
    n Easy-Bake oven to make cookies during the drive to church.
    A self-cleaning feature.
    Voice-activated car-seat straps.
    A Filipino named Bong to chauffeur me, deftly weaving in and out of traffic with the greatest of ease.
    A built in babysitter to tell them stories in the back, so I don’t have to try to make any up.
    A modified Ab-Roller, so I can work out as I drive.
    A holodeck, so I can pretend I’m driving along the coast of France. No, wait. That’s a little too James Bond. Maybe I would be driving through the tulip fields of Holland in April.
    A Kathryn dummy, with a sound chip that has at least 15 responses, including, “You’re disgusting. But I like you.”

  20. LainaKay says:

    How funny… I thought I was the only one that suffered with the lock dilemma. My husband’s car doors lock automatically when he starts driving… handy. Wish mine did.

    I’d also like the borg or for every place to have a drive thru! Imagine a drive-thru at the school where you could drive thru and sign your kids in and out instead of having to park a mile away and drag the non-school age kids in and out! Maybe that’s just me… Imagine a Target drive thru… ooh that could be interesting. Hmmm… I guess the borg might be more practical.

    Oh, and I’m with Mary on the robotic arm. I’ve become very flexible in reaching behind my seat onto the floor to blindly retrieve the dropped sippy cup but I’m not sure it’s the safest way to drive.

  21. marian says:

    I am totally with ya’ on the sitter, as well as one commenter’s suggestion about chauffer glass. I would also add automatic cleaning of the interior. First, the built -in vacuum sucks up every crumb and wrapper, then I’m picturing something like one of those automatic shower cleaners hosing down the interior, then the vac could kick on again to suck up the extra water. It could work.

  22. I would invent the incoming puke sensor. Just before the kid barfed, a bucket would pop from the behind the passenger seat and position itself exactly to catch.. you know…

  23. Ann says:

    I thought I was the only one to want the sound-proof barrier behind the driver’s seat! I’ve been saying for years that whatever car offers that as a feature, I’m buying it. Cost is not an option!!

  24. ZaCarrie says:

    I used to drive an old blue station wagon. It was made in the 70’s and therefore did not have automatic locks. One day as I was riding with my friend (we’ll call her “Sharlene”), we stopped at a stop sign. A creepy guy started to cross the street in front of us. “Sharlene” yelled “LOCK YOUR DOORS!” and lunged across me to lock my door. A little awkward for me since they guy crossing the street lived two doors down from my house. I say, making a guy feel bad is way better than risking your child’s safety. Lock away!

  25. trailin' says:

    I’d like a loudspeaker system attached to my car. The microphone would be inside and the loudest speaker ever would be on the outside so that I can voice my opinion to those heinously horrible drivers in my town who cut me off when my car drops to one mile per hour below the speed limit going uphill.. then come to a COMPLETE stop right in front of me (going 44 mph – 0 in 1.5 seconds flat)

  26. Eve says:

    I think I’m going to buy Sarah K.’s car.
    That’s definately my style. Except the ab roller.

  27. Andrea says:

    Totally made me laugh. So glad I’m not the only door locker who tries to do it as quietly as possible.

  28. LOL! You are so funny. I lock my doors and then don’t make eye contact so I can avoid the hurt in their face.

  29. Heffalump says:

    I find strange comfort in knowing that I am not the only one that worries about freaks hearing me lock the door. Astro Vans are great by the way…we have a 2002 and we love it. One of the nice features about it is that when you put the van in gear it locks the doors automatically. And if you unlock the door after its in gear it will relock them once you get over 20mph. It was annoying until we got used to it, but now I don’t have to worry that the door is unlocked when scary people walk by the car.
    I would like cubicles to seperate my children. Just nice little walls in between them so they can’t poke each other, and preferably soundproof ones so they can’t yell at each other either. Maybe a nice intercom system so I can still communicate with them, but with a mute button in case they become obnoxious.

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