My father never owned a new car but sometimes the car we bought came with the original owner’s manual. This manual was about 50 pages long with drawings of your new car that showed: where and what were all the buttons on the dashboard, where the spare tire and jack was located and when to do maintenance on your car. It did not tell you how to change a light bulb, the oil and filter or how to put air in the tires. The auto industry assumed that the average American male already knew how to do these things and passed this knowledge down to their sons. If the blinker bulb went out; it was a short walk to town to PEP Boys. A few turns of a screw driver, the lens came off and you installed the bulb. Simple?

I picked up my first SUV last week, which is also a Hybrid, and sat in the dealership parking lot with my salesperson and my wife. It took an hour to tell me about all the functions on the SUV. By the time the salesperson was through my eyes had rolled to the back of my eye sockets and I was afraid to drive the thing. The salesperson then handed me seven manuals for the SUV that totaled 1,315 pages! It was like reading War and Peace, or worse, a Stephen King novel!

Going home was not fun. The dash board was lit up like a Christmas tree. I drove home at 30 MPH carefully not touching anything on the dashboard that might blow the thing up. The lane departure alert option kept going off every time I looked at the dash and went into the next lane. Finally the “d—n thing” told me to take a break and a picture of a hot cup of coffee was on the dash board. Once I got it home I did not get back into it for three days.

My wife hollered at me each day saying, “Will you read the d– -n manuals and drive that d—n thing already.”

I really did try to read the manuals on the “d—n thing” but kept falling asleep half way through the first manual titled appropriately “Owner’s Manual”. The other manuals were titled: Audio Manual, Quick Reference Guide, Owner Warranty Rights Notification, Navigation and Multimedia System Owner’s manual, Warranty and Maintenance Guide, Tire Maintenance and finally the Safety and Warranty Manual.

I finally manned up and got into the “d—n thing” and backed out of the driveway with bells going off, cameras showing all sides of the car, lights on the dash blinking and a warning voice telling me to stop, but I did it, besides, I once didn’t know how to work the 8-track player in my last car but I learned.

Never miss a headline!

Sign up to have The Jefferson Chronicle emails/breaking alerts and DIGEST magazine (digital "flip book" edition) sent free to your inbox. Subscribe >>

The April DIGEST magazine, available online now!

Missed the The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST magazine in print? It is available as a digital "flip book". Read the latest issue >>