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But wait, there’s more! l Chuck's World


Last updated 1/17/2018 at Noon

I own a 10-year-old car, which doesn’t mean what it used to mean. I think.

Whatever it means, I own it. We bought this car five years ago, when it was a pre-owned, low-mileage gleaming beauty that called out to us. It seemed so much better than our old car, although in retrospect I think it was just cleaner.

We’ve put a lot of miles on that car, and it’s been reliable transportation for most of the time. It’s also been a fairly low-maintenance vehicle, although not in a good way.

What it hasn’t been is new. Coming fresh off the factory line in the first decade of this century, it was already a little dated by the time we took possession. Although, again, it was very clean.

But it was already lacking in a few bells and whistles, and time has only made this clearer. Renting a car, as I sometimes have to do, has become less of a convenience and more about vicarious driving. These are modern automobiles that recognize me, immediately connect to my phone, warm my seat, give me driving directions, correct my spelling, offer nutritional advice, and (I’m guessing) get regular maintenance updates from NASA.

My old car doesn’t, and since I seem to be stuck with it for the time being, I sometimes daydream about doing a little updating myself. This is why my head got turned the other day, reading about a spectacular sale on dashcams.

You know about dashcams, right? They’re very popular in the rest of the world, less so in this country for reasons that are unclear. Small video cameras that usually are attached around the rearview mirror, recording continuously to a memory card on a loop, they’re actually valuable little technological doodads, coming in handy when that car cuts you off on I-5, if only to prove once and for all that all other drivers are crazy and you’re the only sane one. This makes it worth the price, if you ask me.

Of course, we all drove for years without needing video proof of anything. A dashcam isn’t a necessity, although I think we can all see how it might, on rare occasion, come in handy.

“On rare occasion” is a siren call to my soul, by the way. If it’s electronic and has a pretty light, and I can conceive of any possible use for it, I require it (we have emergency procedures for these scenarios. No one should worry).

So when I saw the article about that spectacular sale on dashcams, I was interested. It was a fancy model that could capture video from either in front or behind the car, small and sleek and practically engraved with my name. It wasn’t particularly expensive, about the cost of a dinner out at a marginal restaurant, and eating is obviously a choice. I really, really wanted this dashcam, which of course was the point of the article.

It was also the point of an article back in December. Which is when I actually bought a dashcam.

Look, I’m just trying to be honest. I’m pretty sure that I don’t need a new dashcam. I’m pretty sure, in fact, that I didn’t need the first one, although that was also a pretty spectacular sale.

I used to snicker at people like this, people who obviously succumbed to the lure of late-night infomercials and now own a bunch of appliances that all do the same thing, which probably has to do with slicing potatoes and/or strengthening your core, which is obviously not very strong if you’re buying stuff off TV.

But that was then. I assume there are still infomercials, but I gave up cable TV years ago, figuring I could use the saved money for something. Some purpose. Some better use. Something in the transportation/video area, maybe.

If you’re thinking that this compulsive loading of my virtual shopping cart is just the residual of the holiday season, that’s what I’m thinking. I want to keep Christmas in my heart all year round. I’m sort of a saint that way.

And of course I didn’t buy another dashcam. I just noticed this urge to click, lingering past Christmas, long after what shopping I had to do was done. I indulged this a few times, not only with the original (still working after three weeks!) dashcam but also a really fancy surge protector for my wife’s office, just to prove my love.

I’m not suggesting that spontaneous consumption is a particular problem for me, or society at large. Anyone who’s ever bought a candy bar while standing in a checkout line, or ordered an appetizer for that matter, knows all about this phenomenon. Most of us manage OK.

I’m just suggesting that holiday habits run deep. This would explain the gingerbread cookies that continue to hang around like the last guest at a party, drinking my Diet Coke and asking for my wifi password every five minutes. This is why we still have a small Christmas tree up in the corner of the family room, just so I can turn on the lights and stare at it in January. This is why it matters.

Because that original dashcam cost me 35 bucks. The Christmas lights? A few cents a day. The gingerbread and other disgusting baked goods that have populated our household since November? Oh, maybe I’ve gained one pound.

The look on my wife’s face when she saw her new surge protector? Priceless.


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