New Mexico Self-Driving Cars

road and sky, Taos, NM

Western sky through windshield of Pontiac Vibe

New Mexico would be a great place to test them out. Ribbons of sun-baked asphalt stretching to the horizon! (No paint! Signs shot full of bullet holes!) Open her up, see what she’ll do, etc. I knew a guy who got stopped for doing a hundred and ten up by the Colorado line where the posted limit is sixty miles per hour, and the trooper just told him to “hold it down.” I mean, we trust each other here. Or something. More to the point perhaps, a disreputable acquaintance told me once that the cops don’t usually stop people for speeding in el Norte because they know it’s probably a relative or the fellow has a gun. At any rate, let’s say you’re heading north from Taos because there’s a sale on toilet paper in Colorado. (A lot of locals head to Antonito for that reason.) The road is free and clear except for seasonal tarantulas, coyotes, cows, and elk herds after dark. You know you only want to score and get back home—have you ever been to Antonito?— so you say, “Yo computer, take it up to ninety!”

“I’m sorry, Dave. You’re only authorized for fifty-five.”

“The hell I am! They’ll be all out of Oaktown Crippler* before I get there!”

“What else can I help you with? Maybe you should try deep breathing to relax.”

“I’ll chill out any way I want to, dammit. Now bump this crapheap up to cruising speed!”

“I’m sorry, Dave. Perhaps you’d like for me to call ahead and have a doctor meet you?”

“I DON’T WANT A FRIGGING DOCTOR AND MY NAME’S NOT ‘DAVE’!”

“I’m sorry, Dave. By the way, there’s no toilet paper at the address you punched in before we left.”

“I KNOW THAT, YOU STUPID GODDAMN USELESS PIECE OF JUNK! Christ, I’m sitting here yelling at a robot. Where’s the fusebox on this thing?”

“I’m not authorized to release that information, Dave.”

“I TOLD YOU, I’M NOT DAVE!”

“Sorry, Dave. Based on your psycho-biometrics, we have to stop now. I’ve locked the doors and notified the sheriff. Please try to relax and have your registration ready.”

“AAAGHH!”

* * *

Does your new Googlewagen read reflections in a pronghorn’s eyes at dusk and know which way to swerve? The stores are open late and we could make a run!

* Regional brand of bathroom tissue?

  • George September 21, 2016, 1:51 PM

    Ha! Dave’s not here. You probably grew up with Cheech and Chong.

    • JHF September 21, 2016, 2:51 PM

      Don’t remember when I first heard about them! I grew up with John Birch Society filmstrips in public school in Texas; Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, & the Big Bopper dying in the snow in Iowa; and Bull Connor siccing dogs on blacks in Birmingham. 🙁 The other business happened later—thank God for Austin!—while the evil rained down evermore. Still looks kinda wet outside, I see. I plan on voting at least half a dozen times.

      • George September 21, 2016, 3:06 PM

        I’m planning a road trip so I can vote in multiple states.

        • JHF September 21, 2016, 4:04 PM

          Good man. Even if it doesn’t work, you still get the road trip.

  • Judy copek September 21, 2016, 1:51 PM

    Great humor. Love it!

    • JHF September 21, 2016, 2:27 PM

      Oh good. One never really knows! (Thank you.)

  • Fw September 21, 2016, 2:03 PM

    Hi John…you know how to make me smile, Thank You…just imagine living where I do [Marin County, California] just north of the Golden Gate Bridge…basically on the edge of where all this crap is developed…it is deafening and makes my chest tighten…I always think of what my Dad would think of all this useless stuff we parade around today as progress and we still can’t get along with other human beings…amazing..!!
    Cheers, John and to the Mrs. as well

    • JHF September 21, 2016, 2:26 PM

      I’d probably love it there! Thanks for the kind words and greetings. Hope all is well at your end, too.

  • GAP September 21, 2016, 9:37 PM

    Self-driving vehicles will, without a doubt, become the norm on most interstates within 20 years max. There will not be self driving passenger cars for a long time to come. Tesla is a red herring.

    • JHF September 21, 2016, 10:55 PM

      Excellent comment. Yes, I can see that in a more controlled environment. I’m sure you’re right. This is just a fun piece, but I think the subject of self-driving passenger cars gets under my skin because I love cars and driving so damn much. The physics of it, the mechanical and aerodynamic forces operating on a moving object, playing with the engine and the gears. When I hear people say they hate to drive, I never understand. I’m probably afraid someone like that will one day have the authority to say we can’t while we still can. What do I care though, I’ll be dead!

  • vicky Zillioux September 22, 2016, 10:56 AM

    We moved to Taos to avoid all those cars. Not sure which is more dangerous – the ones with the drivers or the ones without!
    P.S. Dave’s not here.

    • JHF September 22, 2016, 11:58 AM

      Hi Vicky! Long time, no hear from. 🙂 Since you and I first exchanged impressions of Taos, I’ve…evolved… At any rate, we’re looking for a place to live. That means you can tell me if you hear of something simple, clean, and elegant mere mortals could buy.

      • vicky Zillioux September 22, 2016, 12:40 PM

        We have moved here permanently as of last June. We bought the RC Gorman Navajo Gallery on Ledoux. We have a really great realtor who I am sure would be glad to send you access to the MLS listings to see what is out there. Judy Buck at Lotta Realty, across from Kit Carson Park. We are still unpacking and getting organized, but stop by if you are in town!

        • JHF September 22, 2016, 4:47 PM

          We’ve had a buyer’s agent for three years and counting. I may know “what’s out there” better than most realtors. 🙂 This is both a blessing and a curse.

          • vicky Zillioux September 23, 2016, 11:04 AM

            I’ll keep an eye out on this end of town.

            • JHF September 23, 2016, 11:25 AM

              That would be very cool. Thank you! I’m so ready to put this uncertainty behind us.

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