Sunday, July 1, 2012

PROGRESS


Around about 2001, when I purchased my ’96 Celica, one of its best features, to my mind, was the radio, tape player and 10-CD changer. The tapes, many of which I’d had for 15-20 years (Iris DeMent, Dinah Washington, Freddy Fender) fit nicely in the console. The radio was programmed (requiring nothing more than holding the 1 and the 2 down for a few seconds) to 91.5 (KUSC, classical) and 88.1 (KKJZ, jazz). The CD changer was in the trunk where I could store boxes of CDs. Every few weeks I’d cycle through another ten, or I could listen to the same CD over and over again, or repeat the same track with the handy remote or whatever it’s called that had the CD # and track # in large easy-to-read numerals and three buttons: an on/off, a forward, and a back.

A couple of months ago, my “system” finally died. I googled "car stereo Silver Lake" and got one guy down on Vermont Ave. in Koreatown who had a zillion 5-star yelp ratings. I told him what I had and that it was broken and asked whether he could fix the thing or whether I’d have to replace it with a whole new system. “A CD changer!” he erupted in a friendly guffaw. “They don’t even make those any more. Everything’s mp3s now.” I paused, stricken. “How do you get the mp3s in there?”

“You’d better come down,” he replied. So I went down there and he was busy but helpful. He led me to the many many stereos mounted in a wall display. I reviewed the Sonys, the Kenwoods, the I don’t know what-all-elses, the prices, and finally settled on a $195 unit with a USB and a thingamajig for your ipod or phone or however it goes, all of which is now standard.

Then I took a two-hour walk while the guys installed it. When I returned, a lovely young man named Angel sat in the passenger seat, I sat in the driver’s seat,  and he took me on a 40-minute walk through the myriad features of my new system. I sat there, my heart sinking lower and lower, realizing I now had to load my CDs one by one and asking things like, “Wait, I need a ¼” audio cable?” and “Oh wow, it’s a whole separate function for Pandora?”

I have an ipod and a smart phone. I’m not stupid. I’m not lazy. I’m not anti-technology.  I’m anti the fact that every cable, charger, menu, cord, function, option, scroll through, set/reset takes me farther away from the delightful opportunity to simply listen to a song in my car, which I'm no historian but I'm pretty sure came into being around 1950 and has now become such a pain in the rear that I’m ready to simply drive in silence. I don’t need a function that allows me to scroll through a choice of 15 backlight colors. I don’t want my phone or my ipod dangling off my dashboard, I don’t want to have to remember to charge anything, I don’t want to plug or unplug anything, I don’t want to buy, keep track of, and replace another cable, I don’t want to look at another screen, tap another screen, be talked to by another screen, I don’t want fifteen more doodads with the capacity to malfunction. I want to hit the “On” button and leave my mind free to wander while I concentrate on navigating the streets of L.A. and listen to a tune or two.

At last I said, “Well that is very helpful, Angel, thank you so much.” We were shaking hands when I noticed one tiny lever we hadn’t yet reviewed. “What’s that for?” I asked.

“Oh that’s to remove the face,” Angel said, demonstrating, and in a twinkling was holding what appeared to be the entire system in his hand.

“What!” I cried. “What do you mean, remove it? Why would I want to remove it?”

“You didn't know?" Angel replied gently. "You have to take it out every time you leave the car.  Otherwise they steal it.”

10 comments:

  1. That post was hilarious! I once dated a girl OCD about removing the face. I'm pretty sure it was the reason we didn't get married. I love this blog. :)

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  2. AAAAUUUGGHHH! Oh, Heather, I am right with you. I really get scared sometimes when I think about how much precious time is wasted trying to keep up. And I am in the exact same situation as you are with having to replace a car stereo system. =:O

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  3. I haven't listened to music while commuting for several years now but then I have been exclusively riding a bike (bicycle) year round to I don't tunes on the dash, heck, I don't have a dash. I ride windows down 24/7/365 (well, I have no windows) so there's often a lot of sound, including wind, that would compete with a 'radio.'

    That said, (I'm rambling) a few years back I always rode my bike with ear buds in and was hooked to tunes on a wee mp3 player. I felt it helped me block out the world, focus, push harder, and make the commute enjoyable. One day it broke and I couldn't afford another one. It felt terrible at first; OMGarsh, no tunes! But then I noticed I wasn't feeling as edgy towards others, I guess because I could hear stuff coming and be prepared in advance. If I passed others I might even say, Hi and get a Hello in return; always a pick-me-up to the day. Sometimes a word shared with a fellow bike commuter while waiting at a light. I also noticed how grim a lot of people looked as they jogged or biked along with the tell-tale while buds and cord of an iWhatnot, all hermetically sealed into their own moving bubble. I thought, did I look like that? I also "saw" more because I "heard" more. Can't explain it. So, I've taken a total pass on tunes and the very odd time I do drive a car (ick) I drive in blessed silence.

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  4. Ha ha, glad you relate, folks, and yeah, maybe we're coming full circle back to where we REALLY began: silence. I do realize this is a quality "problem".

    Mom's going into hospice, folks, out on the red eye tonight to Boston. Please pray for her: Janet....

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  5. Will do on the prayers, Heather.

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  6. Praying for your mom and family..
    Rose xx

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  7. Prayers for Janet and your family.

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  8. Found you in Magnificat. Your blog on Amazon! Your theology is one of the few that makes great sense.

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  9. I JUST got my first car with a CD player. This is disheartening. I'm always two technologies behind.

    Will pray for you mom. I'm Janet, too.

    AMDG
    Janet

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I WELCOME your comments!!!