All the bells and whistles

Published 7:45 am Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I went to the auto dealership to get my oil changed. My friend, the one from whom I have bought a few vehicles, saw me and invited me to have a seat and chat.

I looked out at the new cars and asked about the 2013 model. Car salesmen are taught, I am sure, to discern the inflection of voice and the gleam in an eye so that they might pounce upon the unsuspecting customer like “white on rice.”

“That’s a nice looking one,” I said matter-of-factly, I thought.

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That was all it took. Rice, meet white! To make a long story short, I ended up buying a new car and all I meant to do was get an oil change. Talk about one being born every minute.

“It’s got all the bells and whistles,” the salesman said. “It’s got your back-up camera, your ‘econ’ button for great in-city gasoline efficiency, your individual air conditioning settings…” and he went through a whole litany of things the new car had.

One thing he talked about was the Bluetooth capability of the electronic system. What’s that all about? Bluetooth capability? I guess that was part of the bells and whistles.

Come to find out, he was talking about how I could synchronize my cell phone with my car radio and answer calls while I was driving and with no hands on the telephone. Remember the marketing slogan, “Look, Ma, no cavities!” That’s how old I am and how simple my mind is. Now, it’s going to be, “Look, Ma, no hands.”

It’s funny how the salesman never mentioned the motor’s dependability, the sleek, new design, the fact that it was reasonably priced. It was all about the bells and whistles.

After I bought the car, he wanted to set it up for me with some of those bells and whistles. He asked for my cell phone so that he might sync my phone with the system. He took a look at my phone and asked, “How long have you had this phone? Did you trade in your tin cans and string for it?”

I had a little bit of leverage and used it on the smarty-pants salesman. “Well, I guess I could just cancel my purchase of this car with its Bluetooth capability.” Drops of sweat suddenly appeared on his brow.

He was determined to get it working in spite of the message that kept appearing on the central nervous system of the car, “Where did this phone come from? The Alexander Graham Bell laboratory!” Hardy, har-har-har!

He finally got it set up and I left the dealership in a new car and all its ring-a-ding-dings and rooty-toot-toots. As I was driving home, I got a phone call. Yeah! “Look Ma, no hands.” I punched the button with the telephone icon.

“Hello, this is Mr. Roberts answering your phone without taking it off my belt,” I said. No answer. The phone kept ringing.

“Hello, hello, hello,” I answered, louder and louder.

As it turned out, I could not answer or call on my cell phone. The blankety-blank thing wouldn’t work.

Just one question. What good is a bell or whistle if you can’t ring it or toot it?