Discovering newfangled ideas, upgraded toilets


This month, Pastor Pete and I took a trip to the Midwest to visit relatives and friends. We arrived in Chicago and immediately went to Hertz to pick up our rental car. There, we were told that we had been upgraded and could pick out any vehicle in the lot. I was given the duty of selecting the proper vehicle.

I considered a full-size SUV, a Mini SUV and a Chevy Impala; however, the Hertz associate’s voice sounded a bit stronger when he pointed me to a black Dodge Charger. Knowing nothing about cars but knowing that we needed one that had a trunk in which to store the many souvenirs that I planned to purchase, I walked toward the black Charger. Pastor Pete smiled. Upgrading was a good thing!

We had once owned a Dodge Coronet so my reasoning was that a Charger had to be at the same level as a Coronet. Pastor Pete agreed with my reasoning, but what he didn’t know was that this, my “upgraded choice,” had only three miles on the odometer. Upgrading was a very good thing!

Our newly purchased “upgraded” suitcases were placed in the trunk, the fob was given to Pastor Pete and we both got into the Charger ready to start our journey. But there was a problem: a rather significant problem. We were given a fob but no key! There not only was no key, there was no place to insert a key. We both had been driving for years and we always used a key to start a car.

We were mystified by this “newfangled idea!”

We noticed a button that said “start” so Pastor Pete pushed it and nothing happened. Thinking that things might change in five minutes, he waited and then tried again only to have the same results.

I came up with the brilliant idea that maybe there was a button on the fob that had to be pushed, so we pushed all the buttons and still nothing happened.

Pastor Pete pushed all the buttons he could find on the dash and steering wheel, the car sat idle. I leaned over and pushed a few buttons that I was sure he had missed but still the car did not start. We then discovered that we both had reached our golden years when we said at the same time, “why do we need these modern contraptions when the old way was good enough.”

Fortunately, a kind young lady happened to be walking by and asked us if we needed help. It’s rather humbling when you have a “kid” obviously 50 years younger than yourself instruct you on how to start a car!

After we were told that you have to step on the brake while you push the start button, I quietly mentioned, “That’s the next thing I was going to tell you to do.” Pastor Pete gave me his “Don’t mess with me. It’s not funny” look.

Within moments, we were at the Hertz exit gate asking the attendant for the fastest route to Milwaukee. While I was unfolding my 1990 edition of an Illinois/Wisconsin map, the young man at the gate mentioned something about using the GPS on my phone. He didn’t realize that I read maps. I am very good at reading maps and I refuse to use a GPS. If maps were good enough for Lewis and Clark, they are good enough for me!

As we roared out of the gate, the young man ran behind us shouting “You need an I-Pass transponder for the toll roads!” We shouted back, “We’re fine! We have our FasTrak transponder from California.”

Pastor Pete put the “pedal to the metal” and we spun out of the parking garage.

We soon discovered that we lacked the knowledge to drive an “upgraded”  rental car. The passenger seatback was leaning back too far and I couldn’t adjust the seat. The warming feature on the driver’s seat was on and we couldn’t shut it off which made Pastor Pete constantly complain of a “warm behind.” We stopped at a restaurant and couldn’t lock the doors, and when we stopped to get gas, we had to ask Google how to open the fuel door.

Upgrades are not limited only to the world of car rentals, you can also upgrade items in your home.

Recently, I was in Lowe’s and discovered that one of the primary features in my house needs to now be updated. There is now a “smart toilet” available. This toilet is so smart that I’m sure it has at least a 170 IQ.

Imagine how wonderful my life would be if I had a toilet that flushed automatically, self-deodorized and provided heated seating. But having a toilet that has a foot warmer, nightlight and air dryer goes beyond any needs I may have.

The sign indicated that this smart toilet had a remote control. What is there on a toilet that needs to be remotely controlled? Emergency flushing during a power outage was cited. A toilet not flushing is rather low on my list of priorities during a power outage.

When I read that the toilet had “Bluetooth and MP3 capabilities so you can listen to tunes while you go,” I knew that technology had gone a bit too far! We are now rearing an entire generation of young people who will never experience the comfort of reading the Sears Roebuck Catalog while lingering on the toilet!

An upgrade may be disastrous in the bathroom, but in the world of cars, it was wonderful. Pastor Pete loved the power under the hood of the Dodge Charger. I loved how I could “Bluetooth” my iTunes into the Charger’s sound system and we both enjoyed the large trunk so that our upgraded suitcases could hold our “non-upgraded” Midwest souvenirs: two bricks of Wisconsin cheese, five pounds of sausage, five Valomilk bars from Cracker Barrel and Amish soft licorice.

We did learn something rather important on our trip: a FasTrak responder from California does not work on Illinois toll roads. If you doubt my word, I can show you several updated Illinois fines to prove it!


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Pat Van Dyke