March 11th, 2005


Cruise Control

A couple of weeks ago I was driving to work in the morning, like I do almost every morning. The road was dry and not very crowded, so I went to set my cruise control, like I also do almost every morning.

I pushed the button, removed my foot from the gas, and the car started slowing down. Alarmed, I stepped back on the gas. What was wrong with the cruise control? I generally leave it on, so I turned it off then on again a couple of times. I pushed the set button again, but once again my car slowed down when I removed my foot from the gas.

Now I was getting annoyed, because I just recently had something to do with the cruise fixed in the car. But I hoped it maybe just needed a little bit of a rest. I turned the device off and completed my drive to work.

That evening driving home, I turned the cruise back on, gave it an encouraging pat, then pushed the set button while I held my breath. I removed my foot from the gas, and the car slowed down. Darn it! I really didn't want to have to take the thing to the dealer, even though it would be under warranty. Getting the car fixed is a hassle. The car was only two years old; things shouldn't be breaking down yet. Annoyed and frustrated, I turned the cruise control off again and drove home.

The next day, or maybe the day after that, I fussed with it some more. I was still hoping that it just needed some time to relax, then it would be better again. I turned it back on and tried various rhythms of pressing the set button, trying to surprise it into working again. Nothing, no good. The car stubbornly continued to fail to cruise, no matter what I did.

That's when it suddenly hit me. Wait a minute, I realized. It's not the thumb button that sets the cruise control, that's the just resume/speed up button. It's the button on the end that actually sets it! I finally pressed the button on the end, and lo and behold, the cruise control worked flawlessly.

So, let's recap. I'd had the car for two years, driving it on an almost-daily basis, and I'd been using the cruise control nearly every time I drove it. I had probably used that button to set the cruise somewhere in the vicinity of six hundred times, maybe many more -- and yet I suddenly forgot how to use it?? And it took me a couple of days before I remembered again???

How is that possible, and how have I managed to survive my day-to-day existence?