â€œOpen this door. Right now. I mean it! Open the damn door!â€ Herbert kicked the car door in frustration. â€œHoney, will you please tell the car to open the door?â€ he asked through clenched teeth.
Herbertâ€™s wife, Alice, peered up at him through the driverâ€™s side glass from her seat on the passengerâ€™s side. â€œI donâ€™t think she will, darling,â€ she told her husband. â€œI think sheâ€™s upset about something.â€
â€œShe? This is not a she. This is my car. I bought and paid for it. Its purpose is to take me where I want to go, not get us lost in the middle of nowhere and then refuse to let me back in!â€
â€œStep away from the car.â€ The mechanical female voice somehow managed to sound annoyed even through its programmed sugary sweetness.
â€œHoney, canâ€™t you at least try to empathize with her?â€ Alice pleaded. â€œI think sheâ€™s trying to tell us something.â€
â€œI donâ€™t care what the car is trying to tell us!â€ Herbert shouted, thoroughly exasperated. â€œThe only thing I want my car to tell me is which direction I am driving and what the weather is!â€
â€œCaution! Your oil is low,â€ the car told him caustically. Alice pouted from inside.
â€œHerbert, we bought a smart car for a reason. She has feelings too. Maybe you arenâ€™t taking care of her properly,â€ Alice said pointedly.
â€œIâ€™ve gone in for all the scheduled maintenance,â€ Herbert protested, wondering why he felt on the defensive against both his wife and his car.
â€œWarning! A seatbelt is undone,â€ the car seemed to growl, and Alice crossed her slim arms across her chest.
â€œSee, Herbert? She is trying to tell us that she feels unsafe. Itâ€™s not right of you to ignore her concerns.â€
â€œConcerns?â€ Herbert nearly exploded, but with clenched fists, he managed to calm down. Deep breaths, he told himself. Deep breaths. â€œAll right,â€ he said at last, through clenched teeth. â€œAll right. Car. If I promise to bring you in to the dealer as soon as we get home for a check-up and hot wax, will you please open this door?â€
The car rumbled suspiciously. â€œAnd an oil change,â€ Alice prompted.
â€œAnd an oil change,â€ Herbert agreed, trying very hard not to scream.
The car hesitated for a moment more, then grudgingly unlocked the driverâ€™s side door. Herbert stomped in and closed it, settling into his seat with a disgruntled air.
â€œThere, sweetie. That wasnâ€™t so bad, was it?â€ Alice cooed. Herbert couldnâ€™t tell whether she was talking to him or his car.
â€œDamn it,â€ Herbert muttered to himself as he started the car. â€œThatâ€™s it. To hell with cars. Next midlife crisis, Iâ€™m buying a dog.â€