Answer: I have made a resolution to keep our old Lexomobile until the eventual arrival of “self-driving” cars.
We will also cover the world’s most convoluted accounting problem, too…but in due course. It’s going to take a bit of explaining.
There is a piece from a while back (maybe a year? One loses track of time at this stage of life) about how such machines will change the way we live. By the time the analysis was done, it was almost too good to be true. The only part that is not-so-good is the price.
Still, consider what it’s going to be like to have a car which…
- Will find its own damn gas station with the cheapest price.
- Will wash itself when it needs to be cleaned.
- Will schedule and keep its own maintenance appointments
- Will potentially END any concerns about drunk driving.
- Will allow you to completely relax and watch the scenery go by…
- And, in the twin bed version of the driverless, you can actually nap, snooze, or sleep all the way across the country on trips.
To be sure, the media has taken a kind of delish delight in reporting the occasional mishaps that the driverless Googmobiles and others have run into.
Still, it smack of an “anti-future media” and what I mean by this is we have (as a country) lost some of our native ability in American to (language alert) make really cool shit. Sure, some things like the silicon dolly voice come out of Cupertino, and elsewhere. But the minute it hits production levels that make sense for the American market “Poof!!” The manufacturing goes offshore and the money (in Apple’s case) that piles up from huge success hangs offshore too. No point paying taxes on it, I suppose.
Since we may only buy one more vehicle in our lifetime (assuming someone doesn’t offer me a trade for the old airplane that involves a 911 or Cayman), we sometimes have to leave Palestine, Texas and venture out into the noisy world in order to get certain things done. For reasons that should be apparent to any free-market economist, the largest Lexus dealership in the world is not in Anderson County, although there’s a good Toyota dealership.
The new dealership in town can’t make a Lexus key. Lexus here in Shreveport can do so, but only barely.
Lexuses (Lexi?) from the mid 2000’s had one weak spot in their key design. The plastic that should protect everything has a weakness right where the key stem attaches to the plastic body holding the electronics. For all we know, there may be a ham sandwich or bag of cat food inside there, too.
Anyway, ours broke on the last long road trip and Elaine didn’t like my idea of repairs. It involved an assortment of Duco Cement, Super Glue, model airplane cement, and electrical tape. T’wasn’t pretty, but it did the job. Until last month.
I ordered a replacement key online – I thought with the push-buttons, but no, I got the valet key instead. It will do everything the “special key” will do…it’s just you can’t do it from across the street.
Naturally, the valet key from online needed to be cut and “programmed.” Which was done for $50-something. But the dealership didn’t have our old-style key in stock.
After a turn around the dance floor trying to figure out how to solve this, we noticed a display for something called an “Eternity Key.” Basically, it lets the dealership take the old electronics and key stem and put it into this new “military grade plastic” housing. $117 and change.
Don’t even ask what a military grade of plastic is. In my short exposure to product design, we just used glass-reinforced injectable goo and it worked fine. I suppose a stronger binder and a different ratio of glass filling has been assigned a “MIL-STD” but the display either didn’t mention which standard, or I was too dumb to find it. Regardless, no one in the waiting area was able to inform us on point, either.
After going through the chairs a while longer in the waiting room (1-hour 10 minutes and by now 4 pm) everything was done. We had two keys that worked and look good. As opposed to a blank part and one gob of goo with push-buttons when we walked in.
Cost of the repair? A shade over $187. But with a “special” key, you really don’t have too much choice. None of the locksmiths in Tyler sounded promising.
As we were wrapping up, Jay – the service writer – we were kidding around about about local Shreveport industry (gambling) and somehow he mentioned that “…you could go to one of the casinos up the street and win it back…” (referring to the $187 and change dent in the plastic).
Since it was getting on toward later, and there is nothing less fun than driving West at sunset with the sun in your eyes, I figured this to be a “Message from On High.” Not to be confused with a Ted Cruz rally.
So we checked into our favorite rest and play joint, Margaritaville.
After a very pleasant time out, we got down to the business of following Jay’s suggestion.
I figure with all the research I’ve put into how statistics work IRL (in real life), I figured it should be a snap. And you know what?
On the way out the door for home this morning (after a short re-nap) I will be cashing in a ticket for $200.06.
And this gets me to the main problem of playing Mr. Fixit: This is an accounting nightmare.
OK, so I started with $20 bucks. So I have a gain of about $180.
The car dealership tab was $187. Do I credit the winnings against this? Or, do I put it against the hotel/dinner/breakfast bill? Is this trip partially expensable? (I am writing this as a column…) Or do I just hand it to Elaine and credit the Relationship Expense journal?
Language note: The word Expensable doesn’t seem to be in most dictionaries, but it is listed as legit in the Urban Dictionary. go figure.
You see the problem, right? I like thorough accounting…and expense allocations that make sense are usually a lot more straight-forward. But with tax time for current operations only 14 1/2-months off, one can’t be too careful.nor start too early. Government thrives on such paranoia.
Maybe the driverless cars will arrive before then, but it doesn’t seem likely. When we get one, we’ll make sure the dealer includes a couple of extra sets of keys.
A Personal Note to Jimmy Buffett
We like your hotel.
BUT you seem to have fallen into a “designer trap” that lots of hotels have over the past dozen, or so, years.
Namely in the material selection for the small desk which each hotel room has.
Not that pink and white granite isn’t pretty. But here’s the thing: It is almost without contrast and it is highly reflective. An optical mouse, which everyone on earth uses, doesn’t get enough “optical traction” on the shiny granite so the mouse won’t work right.
I’d bet for much less than a buck, you could put a fresh Jimmy mouse pad in each room. You can get ‘em made in China in quantity for probably a dime, or two. Hand ‘em out at check-in on request.
That way, people like Ure’s truly wouldn’t have to open the three ring binder to the front cover of the “guest services book” and use the palm tree picture there which offers a pretty good mouse ride.
Perhaps other hoteliers could be shown the way on this issue, as well. Millions of hapless travelers will thank you, including me. If you’d like to send me an iPhone 6 so I can join the rest of the world living on a phone screen, that’d be fine, too. Seriously: When was the last time you wrote a few thousand words on a phone?
Sincerely, or nearly so, yada, yada…
P.S. Thanks for the $200.06. I’ll be donating it to my favorite charity.
Amazon Has Everything Dept.
I can’t make this up: Frankly, I’m not this clever: IllumiBowl Toilet Night Light (Motion Activated).
An d if that doesn’t turn your crank there’s the GRDE Lavnav Modern LED Sensor Motion Activated Toilet Nightlight, White.
Only in America,, huh? Have we run out of non-problems to solve yet?
Write when you break-even,